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Romans 1:1-7

 

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

 

To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (ESV)

 

 

 

 

 

Called

Monday of Epiphany 2

19 January 2015

While teaching in Guntur, India, I learned as much as I taught. The deep humility of my Lutheran brothers in India was nothing short of remarkable to me. At every turn they were on hand to help, direct, support, translate, and see to my needs. They went shopping with me to help me negotiate unfamiliar territory and tolerated my cultural gaffs (which were many). At the farewell given to us at the Lutheran seminary in Guntur, I teased my hosts by saying that I did not want to go home, because when I got back to Houston I would have to carry my own luggage. No matter how hard I tried to carry my own bags they insisted on taking them from me. One young woman, eight-months pregnant, insisted that she carry my computer bag to the van when we departed from the seminary one evening. I tried to prevent her by pointing out her "delicate condition," but she said, "Oh, pastor, it is a blessing for me to be able to serve in this way." What can you say to that?

 

With what great humility they received our teaching and preaching. They patiently sat through translations of everything I said. They came for personal blessings and prayers from me at the end of the various events at which we spoke. Their poverty was evident to me, but invisible to them. They offered me the best that they had and I lived like a king and prince among them. I began to have some idea of the heavenly banquet at which there is sumptuous food and perfect fellowship together. The Indian cuisine was sublime.

 

Our hearts were united in faith and confession. They said to me that there was nothing to divide us from each other; not nation, tribe, language, or people. All are one in Christ (Rev 5:9-10). What might have divided us was insignificant in the face of our unity in our Lord (Eph 4:4-6). We have but one calling and there is none greater or more exalted. It comes from God. The person and work of Christ creates it, and not our own merits or deserving; no matter how glittering and glorious our own works may seem to us. There is no loss of honor or prestige in humility. For those who are first must be last, those who want to be honored must make themselves servants of all (Mk 9:35); the pattern of the One who has called us. 

 

John Chrysostom

 

"Paul repeats the word 'called,' saying, 'To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints' (Rm 1:7). He does not waste words here, but he wishes to remind the Romans of the blessing. Among those who believed, it was likely that there would be some of the authorities and rulers as well as poor and common men. By casting aside the inequality of authority, he writes to them all under one name: 'called.' In things more needful and spiritual, God has set forth all things as common both to slaves and free; for example, love from God, the calling, the gospel, the adoption, grace, peace, sanctification, and all other spiritual things. It would be the greatest foolishness to divide those whom God had joined together and made to be of equal honor in the greater things, if they were not to make divisions because of things on earth. On this basis, I presume, from the very outset, this blessed Apostle, after casting out this mischievous disease, directs them to the mother of blessings: humility."


John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans, 1

 

Prayer

Almighty God, You have called us into Your kingdom through the proclamation of the gospel grant us to live as Your especially called children all our days; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

 

For the family of Irene Schroeder, that they might be comforted in the teaching of the resurrection of the flesh and the life of the world to come

 

For the family of Mark Harstad, that they would find peace as they commit their beloved husband, father, and grandfather to the care of a gracious God

 

For Jim Keller, who is undergoing a spinal procedure, that the Lord Jesus would be with him and give wisdom and discretion to the doctor

Art: RENI, Guido Baptism of Christ (c. 1623)

 

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