Setting a Trap

In Paul's letter to the Romans, he was writing to a young church deeply divided on ethnic grounds.  And those ethnic grounds also implied moral grounds.  In chapter 1, Paul sets the stage for his listeners to understand that there were non-Jewish (i.e. "Gentile") Christians to whom God gave some knowledge of him, but who exchanged it for lesser things.  So God gave them over to those shameful things.

One of Paul's descriptions includes 1:26-27, about what the NIV translates as shameful sexual acts.  And if we stop there, it is easy to conclude universal truths about the examples he has given.  In this week's teaching, Pastor Aaron discusses some of the details about how he is interpreting this passage.

But Paul is intentionally stirring up deeply entrenched prejudices against Gentile Christians in that day.  Why?  Especially if his ultimate goal is to reconcile the community of Christ that fractured along ethnic/moral lines?

Then he springs his "trap."  

He changes from speaking about the Gentiles in the past tense to speaking about the Jewish Christians in the present tense -- Romans 2:1-4.  He is bringing to everyone some painful clarity of the culpability in sin that they share: "There is no one who seeks God" (3:11).  In other words, when we judge another, we condemn ourselves.  Jesus said as much in Matthew 7:1-2.

What does this mean for you and me today?  It shines a bright light on self-righteous anger people are feeling on any side of any issue.  The "progressives," the "conservatives," and everyone in between.  

- Have you ever felt judged/condemned by someone?  Recall that story, and if you're willing, share it with someone.
- Have you ever passed judgment/condemnation on someone?  Recall that time, and if you're willing, share it with someone.
- How are you doing these days, letting God be the judge of your neighbors, wider community, elected leaders, political pundits, social media voices, difficult friends or family members, coworkers, and so on?
- Holy Week begins this Sunday.  In what ways can you be part of communicating the story of Holy Week and Easter as the "good news" that so many people need to hear?


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