Pentecost 10 (August 9, 2020)
Romans 10:13 (Series A)
Have you ever felt left out? Left out of a conversation? Not picked until last and then the captain tried to give you to the other team? Did a salesperson ever ignore you because you were a woman? Did you ever get passed over for a job because you were the wrong gender? Were you ever told you were not wanted because you were the wrong ethnic group or religion? Being looked down on and discriminated against or being mistreated shows itself in many ways beyond skin color. To be hated or rejected or just ignored leaves an impression on a person, about themselves and about the one who is doing that to you.
Sometimes, however, we read into a situation more than is really there. This can easily happen when we read what someone else has written, especially these days with text messages and shorts statements made in social media. Not being able to see their face and hear their voice do we really get the best understanding of what they meant and how they meant it.
I have an example from last week’s sermon that I forgot to mention then and it came at the end of our epistle reading (Romans 9:13) when it said God loved Jacob but hated Esau. Just reading those words which were translated from Greek and not knowing the full usage of a word like “hate” we could get the idea that God just randomly hated people and did not love the entire population of the planet.
In chapter 9 the point that Paul was making was that God had the plan and he chose how things should go in establishing a land and people from whom the Messiah would come. So God chose Jacob while he was still in the womb to be the one to inherit the birthright even though he was born second. So God showed greater favor to Jacob in a way similar to God choosing Mary to be the mother of Jesus. It wasn’t that God hated the other women of the day or that while in the womb Esau had somehow already offended God to lose his favor it is just that they were passed over.
Now when it came to being loved or hated it would do us well to see this as a judgment day type of decision. While Jacob did some things that were not praiseworthy he would repent of his sins and by faith be restore to God’s favor, to be understood then as God’s love. Esau on the other hand, while he did receive a blessing from his father and also from God he turned his back on both the wishes of his father and turned to pagan idols, not repenting of his sins. Thumbing his nose at both of them he went and deliberately married pagan women. His family would become the Edomites and would often be at odds with the Israelites over the centuries. The turning from God brought judgment upon himself which could then be understood as hate.
So moving a chapter farther in Paul’s writing to the Romans we see Paul talking about righteousness being by faith, confessing one’s sin and believing in Jesus’ death and resurrection as the atoning sacrifice. Here we gain the clarification of Esau’s problem and what could have been a worry for many who were not Jewish, but gentile. As we heard Paul bemoaning the Jews who should have been accepting salvation by faith and not their own works he makes it clear that it doesn’t matter if you are Jew or Greek, which basically meant anyone who wasn’t Jewish. “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” There is no discrimination with God. Jesus is an equal opportunity Savior. Believe and be saved; you will not be refused. God doesn’t see us as we often see each other. He doesn’t dwell on the sins of our past. He sent Jesus to atone for them because we couldn’t and once our sins are forgiven He no longer holds the sins against us, something we often have trouble in doing. God’s love is there for all and he gives the opportunity to all to enter into His kingdom. There is no discrimination in the Gospel, as it is to be spread throughout the world. May we pray that the Gospel of salvation through Christ might bring peace to all hearts and to the earth. Amen.