This week we recap Romans with seven highlights from across our sixteen-week series. See you August 14 for the launch of Acts Season 1 (chapters 1–14).
PRAYER OF CONSECRATION
Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.
Jesus, I belong to you.
I lift up my heart to you.
I set my mind on you.
I fix my eyes on you.
I offer my body as a holy and living sacrifice to you.
Jesus, We belong to you.
Praying in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen.
Romans 1:16–17 (NIV)
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
Today’s text is nothing short of a burning bush—on fire and consuming but not consumed. It has burned with brilliance from the day it was inspired by the Holy Spirit and written on parchment.
Billions have warmed to its fire and been found in its light. If Romans can be summarized (which it can’t) this is it.
I don’t know if you know this about me, but I am a poet. I just decided one day many years hence.1 I wrote the poem below back around Easter after meeting up with an old friend. While I know my verse will not do the text justice, I am certain my normal commentary is wholly inadequate. I call it . . .
The Hard and Beautiful Truth
“I don’t want you to think I’m not a good person.”
That’s what my old friend said to me
upon meeting again after decades apart
and a long confession of her broken story.
I assured her with The Hard and Beautiful Truth:
“You are not a good person.
I’m not either.
We are broken sinners.”
Something deep in me (and maybe you too)
wants to believe we are good (or worse that we are bad)—
that we just need to lose twenty pounds,
drop a few bad habits, and try harder to be better.
Then I assure myself with The Hard and Beautiful Truth:
Good people and bad people is a lie
from the pit of hell,
and the way from good to great (or bad to worse)
paves the way there.
Jesus only goes from
Death to Life
Lost to Found
Slave to Free
Broken to Beautiful
Then she asked me, “If you are not good, what are you?”
“LOVED,” I said.
“I am loved,
and you are too.”
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
Jesus, we belong to you. Yes, Jesus, I belong to you. And you belong to me. I am so weary of trying to fake goodness and appear better than I am. Who am I fooling besides myself? Wake me up to the beautiful truth that nothing bad I have done renders me worthless and nothing good I have done renders me worthy. Jesus, while I was a sinner you died for me. You love me. I just want to keep saying it. You love me. You love me. You love me. Until the sad tears become happy tears and all is well with my soul. So I say I love you and I love you and I love you. Praying in your name, Jesus, amen.
How about you? Tired of the good person, bad person calculus of hell? Ready for the gospel? Jesus is.
I am thinking of an old simple song I remember, “Oh How He Loves You and Me.” You will pick it up quickly if you don’t know it. We will sing it through a few times.
For the Awakening,
J. D. Walt
- I mostly publish and collect my poems on Instagram (@jdwalt) and Facebook if you care to see them. You won’t see “my best life now” there because that mostly doesn’t exist.