Saturday, September 24, 2011

Grace Wins

Romans 5

Grace wins. The Message describes grace as God's "aggressive forgiveness" that invites us into life. Paul explains God's love by contrasting it to our normal reaction to each other. We would be unlikely to die for someone who didn't deserve mercy. Anyone who required our ultimate sacrifice should at least be worthy of the effort! But divine love far exceeds the best that we are willing to do for one another.

Next Paul tackles one of the toughest questions of the ages... If this is God's world, how did sin get in and gain so much power? Paul uses the familiar story of Adam to explain that sin is universal and has disastrous results. Christ is presented as the new Adam. Both are "types" that represent qualities characteristic of a larger whole-- an old humanity vs a new humanity. They are not equal opposites, however, since Christ is more powerful to save than Adam was to condemn. Personally, I can't exactly follow this argument, but I think the idea is that by giving humanity the option of choice we are bound together for good and bad. Even sincere repentance cannot stop the consequences of evil actions. We are trapped in a cycle of sin and spiritual death that separates us from God's fellowship. God chose to fix the problem of humanity with humanity -- the incarnation  brought about "atonement" our at-one-ment with God. The whole point of our existence is union with God. Justification is not a judge's acquittal so much as a father's welcome, and reconciliation brings in the idea of reunion with the life of the family. 

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