Daily posts to help you connect with God
and keep yourself travelling in the right orbit
ORBIT | WEEK FIVE
ORBIT – DAY TWENTY THREE
Hello and welcome to another Orbit – the daily devotional from the youth team at St Mary’s Reigate. Each day we give you a short passage of the Bible to reflect on, a way of putting it into practice in your life, and a chance to pray and reflect. We’re been looking recently at the story of Paul the Apostle, who followed Jesus in an extraordinary way in chaotic and uncertain times – he feels like a good role model for us right now. Now we’ve moved on to look at his letters to the early church around the world, and at the moment we’re working through the letter to the Romans.
BIBLE READING: Romans 3: 22-25
This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith.
Some parts of the Bible are easier to understand than others. Noah’s ark is so simple, you can reduce it to a children’s book – although quite why we’re so obsessed with teaching our pre-schoolers a story about global annihilation isn’t completely clear. The story of Joseph is so straightforward that it became a popular West End musical. Not so Paul’s letter to the Romans – which is one of the trickiest passages of the New Testament to get our heads around. It’s worth it though – Paul’s writing contains loads of gems which can enhance and make sense of our lives… we just need to dig for them a little.
The first thing to remember about this letter is that Paul was writing to a specific group of people – the church in Rome. These were people who were serious about religion – they’d learned it from an early age, and now they were having to learn all sorts of new things because of what Jesus had done. They were a mixed group – some of them were from a Jewish background like Paul was, and others were gentiles – the Bible’s cover-all word for all the people who weren’t Jews. Up until Jesus came, God related only to the Jews – but now he makes no distinction between the two types of person. Some people were struggling to get their heads around this; after all, for as far back as anyone could remember, God only wanted a relationship with the Jews. Now the early church’s greatest teacher – who himself was born a Jew – is saying that the game has changed because of Jesus; that God now embraces the non-Jew just as much as the Jew.
This is why Paul writes: “There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace.” In other words, no-one is exempt from God’s judgement, but crucially also, no-one misses out on Jesus as saviour. We all mess up, but we’re all invited to be a part of God’s family anyway. And all of this happened because of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Today we can find ourselves in exactly the same position as those First-Century Romans. We hear that Jesus died for all – that he includes and invites all – but somehow we can struggle with the idea. Perhaps we think that certain types of people still don’t deserve God’s love; that somehow they’ve fallen even further than anyone else. Or perhaps we can even struggle to believe that we are worthy of God’s love, forgiveness or friendship.
The passage might be dense, but Paul is clear: all have fallen short, but all are covered by Jesus anyway. No-one can fall too far to be out of the reach of Jesus; none of us are classified unworthy of God’s love. This is the essence of what we mean when we talk about God’s grace: none of us deserve to have a relationship with God, the creator of the universe, but we’re all offered it anyway. Because ultimately it doesn’t matter who we are, or what we’ve done; it matters who Jesus is, and what he’s done.
You might want to join me in praying this prayer.
Lord Jesus I thank you for your sacrifice. Father God, I thank you for your grace. Holy Spirit, I praise you that you live in me. I am not perfect or even worthy on my own, but because of who you are, I am enough. Please would you help me to truly know and understand your love for myself today. Amen
There’s now a chance for you to pray, or listen to God, or simply be still for a few moments.
Each day we will provide you with a simple challenge; something to do which helps you put this little thought into action. Here’s today’s challenge:
We want to encourage you today to spend some time worshipping God with your own words of gratitude or praise. Either spend some time praying, but only thanking God – not moving on to ask for things you need; or if you’d prefer, write your own Psalm of praise and thanksgiving. If you need some inspiration – the book of Psalms is full of it.
And if you do write something, please send it to us! If you want to get in touch about this or anything else, you can always email email@example.com.
We’ll be back with another edition of Orbit tomorrow. Thanks for taking part today!