If there is one message that I would like to get out, into the hearts and minds of people across the globe it would be this one.
The Grace of God is an incredible thing for us mere human beings to contemplate and comprehend. In fact we do such a poor job of comprehending it that God has to use a donkey like me to shout it out.
Far too many people live their lives in the fear that they are out of the will of God. Or, live under condemnation for events that took place, in many cases years ago, in the past. They may have even gone through the process of confessing and asking to be forgiven. But, they have never forgiven themselves.
GLBTIQ Christians, in particular, fall victim to this condemnation from both within themselves and from without by other members of churches who enjoy the opportunity to have a scapegoat that enables them to assuage the guilt, they feel, about their own life walk; their religiously constructed measuring system for sin gives them a sense of superiority when they can compare the things they’ve done up alongside the life-walk of someone they and their friends regard as deviant.
The wonderful thing about the Grace of God is that it can even accommodate this expression of self-pride and self-importance. I am reminded of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector that Jesus Spoke of, saying:
He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves and were confident that they were righteous [that they were upright and in right standing with God] and scorned and made nothing of all the rest of men:
Two men went up into the temple [ enclosure] to pray, the one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
The Pharisee took his stand ostentatiously and began to pray thus before and with himself:God, I thank You that I am not like the rest of men—extortioners (robbers), swindlers [unrighteous in heart and life], adulterers—or even like this tax collector here.
I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I gain.
But the tax collector, [merely] standing at a distance, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but kept striking his breast, saying, O God, be favorable (be gracious, be merciful) to me, the especially wicked sinner that I am!
I tell you, this man went down to his home justified (forgiven and made upright and in right standing with God), rather than the other man; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted. (Luke 18:9-14 AMP)
It is for this reason that I really love the book of Romans. Yes, it contains one of the most violently abused justifications for bullying, tormenting and even the killing of GLBTIQ people. Because of Romans 1:24-27 many Gay and Lesbian people have been Exorcised, demonised and marginalised from their home churches; being told they are not welcome. In some extreme cases they have even been forbidden any future contact with family members who have been instructed to shun them.
It is interesting to note that only a few verses further into this letter Paul, by the Holy Spirit issues the ‘Gotcha’, by announcing that anyone who judges another, for such things, will themselves be judged with the same judgement, as if they had committed the very same acts. Paul is not commenting on the acts themselves. Rather, he is commenting on the action of usurping the role of God who is the only one with the right to pass judgement; since, as Jesus said “Only God sees the heart of a man..” (Luke 16:15 para.)
The Book of Romans is not a book of condemnation. Rather, it is an exposé of The Grace of God. In this letter, to the whole church, Paul opens up to his own struggles with sin (Rom 7:14 – 8:2 Chapter and verse is only there to help us locate these scriptures they weren’t there in the original letter). He talks about his own self accusation regarding the work of persecuting the church. That same church he has now been sent to proclaim and to promote, while still reminded of the ability of that Abundant Grace to save even one such as himself.
It is Romans 8:33-39 that is the clincher for me though. I particularly like the Amplified version of this passage because, as you read it carefully, even studiously, it reveals the very heart of God Himself. It expounds the very nature of Grace. The whole letter, to this point has described the process that the man Paul has had to undertake to renew his thinking, to be able to live with his memories and yet press on to serve Christ.
He describes the depth to which the Grace of God has penetrated his soul. Using words like “Persuaded;” “Beyond doubt” and “Sure.” The very strength, the emphasis that he puts into this passage should leave no wiggle room for the reader to think that Paul means anything less than what he is about to describe; he believes:
For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers,
Nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:38-39 AMP).
Don’t allow yourself to be robbed, any further, by the insecurity; the blatant ignorance; the awful ‘hate-speech’ constructed from cherry-picked pieces, from the bible, that have been taken out of context, to be wielded as a weapon of destruction and by no means from the Love of God.
This message, from the book of Romans, so badly misunderstood, is the very Gospel that we must take and spread to the world. The Love of Jesus that we can see in action in the synoptic gospels comes alive in the church as we are able to share the simple, yet awesome truth; that NOTHING; NO THING; Absolutely NOTHING and NOBODY (or their opinion) can separate you from the LOVE OF GOD WHICH IS IN CHRIST JESUS, Our Lord!
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