Grace and Peace from our Lord Jesus Christ!
Since the purpose of Romans was to get the Christians in Rome to want to help Paul reach “barbarians” in another part of the world, we’ve been reflecting together on God’s call for as a congregation to mission in another part of the world. Yes it is an ambitious goal, but it is worth it. And it fits well with the larger mission that I’ve been encouraging us as a congregation to embrace these last six years – to call the nations to stream to Heaven’s waterfall; in other words, to be a congregation of disciples of Jesus who call the nations to be disciples of Jesus.
In Romans we have seen that God shows no partiality. While judging the awful idolatry and behavior of foreigners and others, we read Romans 2:1 – “therefore you have no excuse, O human being, every one of you judging, for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the one who is judging, practice the very same things” (my translation). God showed you that you are not a different kind of people than idolaters in foreign countries, or actors on television, or Presbyterians in Buffalo just as the Christians in Rome were not a different kind of people than the barbarians to their west. We are all sinners. We are all awful.
Every human being is without excuse for our idolatry and our immorality that grows out of it and thus every human being deserves to die. We know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die and then do them ourselves. Yet we religious types judge those awful barbarians for their idolatrous and immoral behavior and think God will give us a pass. So Paul reminds us that we are all sinners deserving God’s wrath and we don’t get a pass. God is an impartial judge – He will be fair and not play favorites. Thus we too should be impartial and not play favorites. But we are playing favorities if we only share the good news with our neighbors and not with people who are different and live in a faraway land. We have even seen that it is a kind of bigotry to limit our witness to neighbors like us. Romans helped us to see that it is a bigotry of low
expectations if you think only that other kind of people are awful and if you are not helping to reach people from another nation with the gospel.
I know that you too will get excited about reaching people with the gospel somewhere else on the globe. We can start at home by finding ways to reach out to the nations who visit Niagara Falls with the gospel. After all, you would be showing partiality even here if you only tell your fellow Americans the good news of righteousness by faith in Jesus Christ. You have the advantage of living in a place people stream to from all around the world. This is one reason that God has you here. But you do not need to stop with those who are
coming to you. Instead you can have high expectations that God can use you to make an impact in some part of the world far from here. Some of you could eventually even go there in person. But no matter how unfaithful we may be God is faithful. Indeed, God is just to forgive everyone who is righteous by faith in Jesus. Thanks be to God. Amen.