Reading: Romans 1: 1-7
Paul opens with a thought: “set apart for the gospel”. We are called to this. We are called to be different from the secular culture and the worldly values by which so many live. We are called to Christian witness in a post-Christian time. Jesus did say that the road is hard and the way is narrow that leads to eternal life. It is work, at times, to hold fast to the faith we profess. Although narrow, the way is open to all who choose to live with Jesus as Lord.
In Rome, Caesar was lord. To call upon Jesus Christ as Lord was to be set apart. As we we’ll know from our own daily struggles to keep Jesus #1, there can only be one Lord. So to profess Jesus is Lord implies that Caesar is not. This was risky back in Paul’s time. Today many think it a bit risky to profess Jesus Christ as Lord all the time and in all aspects of our lives. This can be risky to our jobs, our friends, our hobbies, our money, and, perhaps most significantly, to our self.
As a church we can choose to be set apart. We can have doors that are open to any and all instead of just to some. We can offer communion to any and all who seek to be made new instead of just to those who meet our qualifications. We can invite and welcome the whole community into our sacred spaces instead of just our church members.
As individuals, we can take these ideals and apply them to our lives as well. W can engage any and all as we live out our lives as slaves to the gospel. We can welcome all guests who come to our places of worship and to the events we put on or host. We can invite all of our neighbors, coworkers, and classmates to be a part of our communities of faith. Our lives too can have open hearts and open doors.
Paul writes, “grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”. May we choose to live as disciples and apostles each day, bringing peace and grace to the world, to any and all we meet.