By Andrew Bolton of Leicester, England
But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.
May I first invite you to read today’s full passage from Romans 5:1–11. Then reread and ponder it. Let it seep into your soul.
Let me begin with a confession. I did not like Paul for several reasons. He is dogmatic, dense, sometimes difficult to understand. I also did not like the exclusive, hard, and sometimes violent conclusions some other Christians come to from his writings.
In contrast, I found the four Gospels bounce with the energy and drama of the central character, Jesus. In Jesus’s interactions with others, women, outsiders, children, and wobbly disciples like Peter, I unfailingly am drawn gently toward this Jesus who loves me as I am, and who then lovingly challenges me to begin a new life by following him.
I helped lead the pastoral care and missionary work of more than 200 congregations in ten countries in the Asia Field for nine years. Suddenly Paul became wonderfully relevant on how to promote unity and reconciliation among disagreeing believers.
What is the Apostle Paul saying in this weighty letter to the early Christians in Rome? It is the character of God to love us, no matter what we have done. We are justified, forgiven, accepted—not because of our goodness, but because of God’s goodness.
Yet it costs God to love us; we glimpse God’s pain in Christ on the cross. God in Christ absorbs our mistakes, our selfishness, our lack of love, and still loves us.
Peace with God is realizing, trusting, that God loves us no matter what. We see this grace at work in Jesus’ encounters with so many people in the Gospels. Paul encounters this grace on the road to Damascus; in this passage he shouts of this grace made visible in Christ. Peace with God, reconciliation, comes through Jesus Christ (v.1, 11). Paul’s testimony continues in verse 5: “…God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”
Let us also embody this forgiving love to others. This is to embody Christ’s peace.
Breathe deeply and repeat the word “courage” in the silence. Notice how you respond in body, mind, and spirit. Practice the feeling of spiritual strength, of stretching beyond what is comfortable and familiar. Bless the feelings that are evoked. Breathe again. Trust that you have everything you need to follow the Spirit in the places where courage is required today.
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.