A sermon idea based on Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32.
Romans 11:1-2,29-32 NRSV
 I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. [2a] God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel?
 for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.  Just as you were once disobedient to God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience,  so they have now been disobedient in order that, by the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy.  For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all.
Most of us are quite well aware of our own imperfections. We’re okay talking about the grace of God as it was demonstrated on the cross of Christ. Sadly, however, we sometimes find it easy to talk about God’s redemptive grace in reference to our own past, but not necessarily in reference to the present predicament of other people.
It’s easy for us to say:
- Here’s how bad I was.
- Here’s how bad we all were.
- How great is the forgiveness of God!
But if we’re not careful, we’ll still limit the grace and forgiveness of God by looking at certain groups of people and inwardly wondering about this question… even them?
I know that God loves everyone and wants to bring everyone into his forever family, but… even them?
The Hebrew scriptures are the record of God singling out the nation of Israel to be special recipients of the revelation of his grace toward sinners, but by Jesus’ time, many of Israel’s leaders looked at the Romans, the Greeks, the barbarians, and asked… even them?
Isaiah had tried to head off this kind of thinking in his prophecy…
Isaiah 56:6-8 NRSV
And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, all who keep the sabbath, and do not profane it, and hold fast my covenant- these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. Thus says the Lord GOD, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, I will gather others to them besides those already gathered.
Isaiah put it plainly… all of Israel, all of the outcasts, and all of the foreigners (non-Jewish people) would be gathered into his family.
The Christian scriptures offer a resounding, “YES! Even them! ALL of them!” And that’s what Paul echoes here. Having built his case that the nation of Israel had a rather short-sighted understanding of God’s redemptive work in the world, and having brought the indictment against Israel for having rejected God’s plan for saving the world, Paul then asks a rhetorical question.
Is God done with Israel, then?
No, not at all, is his answer. Rather, according to Romans 11:32, “God has imprisoned ALL in disobedience so that he may be merciful to ALL.”
Even those who sin differently than we do. Even those from other parts of the world, whose backgrounds are rooted in other religious traditions. Even those whose culture doesn’t match our own in the least. ALL of us have been disobedient and ALL of us are welcome to come into God’s family.
Even me and even you.
So we must walk around our world believing that, no matter how much we might misunderstand or disagree with a person or a group of people, God’s loving work of redemption invites ALL of us into his forever family on the basis of Christ’s work.
- Kirk, J. R. Daniel (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 200 Pages - 10/30/2022 (Publication Date) - Bible for Normal People, The (Publisher)
- Amazon Kindle Edition
- Achtemeier, Paul J. (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 253 Pages - 01/25/2010 (Publication Date) - Westminster John Knox Press (Publisher)