RHYTHM: Breaking the Law – Romans 2

Lectionary for youth ministry Romans 2Thursday before Proper 7: Romans 2:17-29

Reading: Romans 2:17-29

Breaking the Law

I always thought that Paul was overstating his point here, but I finally figured it out. When I first read it, I thought he was doing some baby + bathwater math, suggesting that if you were going to disobey one rule, you might as well disobey them all. When I was younger, I was missing the work that the law was intended to perform: it was meant to bring righteousness to God’s people. Paul is pointing out that righteousness is an all-or-nothing proposition; there is no 99% righteousness. It’s a yes or no question, not a how much question.

This is rattling around Paul’s general annoyance with the continued insistence of some Jewish Christians on circumcision for Gentile converts. I am glad that this eventually transitioned to the new member lunch, but that wouldn’t happen for quite some time. Here Paul (once again sounding like a loud-talker) is pointing out the ridiculousness of insisting on a minor (well, after the first few days) outward compliance with the law, especially when he (and his audience) was well aware that they weren’t really keeping the whole law themselves—which, in the quest for righteousness, upends the whole thing.

Grace isn’t a magic trick, it’s just complete. Complete in a way God’s people had been proving for centuries that humanity wasn’t capable of achieving on its own.

For reflection:

What rules are important in your life?

When do rules interfere in you living as a disciple of Jesus?

What is your understanding of grace?


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