I think my attitude about being a Christian has really changed over the last ten years. I was brought up believing that if you kneel at the right time, stand at the right time and memorize the right prayers, you were pretty much guaranteed a spot in heaven. I don’t think my early Christian training was really as bad as I’m making it sound, but that is what I got out of it anyway. Of course, I loved VBS also.
But, now, that could not be farther from my thinking. Now, I am almost desperate to share the love of God with everyone I meet. (I’m really not that evangelical, but that’s for a different devotional.) I am further reminded about my growth as a Christian, as well as how far I still need to go, in today’s reading. In Paul’s first line, he states that he is confident that his Roman brothers and sisters are “full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to instruct one another.” I don’t know too many groups of humans who are able to do that. In fact, I’m pretty sure I don’t know of any who are so full of the love of God and who get along so well as to be able to instruct one another. Actually, most folks I know are pretty good at giving the instruction; it’s the taking that seems to be difficult.
So, Paul is far away from these new Roman Christians and he has been far away from them for a long time. He has not seen them and his only news of this new church plant is via letters that take a long time en route. Yet, he is confident of their ability to live a communal, Christian life. This makes me want to have Paul’s confidence in me as well. Would he be that confident in me as a Christian? Was he telling the Romans this just to be nice? Is he manipulating them? Does he really believe what he is writing?
What I believe this comes down to is my (and your own) confidence about our own ability to live a truly Christian life. Can you imagine what life would be like if everyone loved one another the way that Jesus loved? No more jealousies or pettiness. To truly live with the peace of God which passes all understanding? To live as, apparently, the Roman Christians did?
By the way, just to show that my early Christian development was not all that bad, ever since I was a little girl I wanted to have “the peace of God which passes (actually we said passeth) all understanding”. I’m still working on that.