14th October 2021
WHAT IS OUR AGREED FAITH REFERENCE POINT?
Many Christians derive from this passage a fundamental element of belief that:
Justification comes through faith in Christ apart from the law. One of the most important point about this passage is that we are never far from misunderstanding or misusing even what seems to be the central statement of God's redemption in Jesus Christ.
All too often, we stand upon our traditions and theological frameworks to define God and God's activity forgetting that throughout the Scripture, God has constantly been showing people the inadequacy of doing this.
This passage reveals an ethnic conflict within the Christian community in Rome and this conflict takes on a theological dimension when non Jewish believers wonder how they can relate to the religious traditions of Israel.
Can the two groups, that is ,the Jewish Christians and the non Jewish Christians become linked to the one body in Christ if they do not have the same religious sensibilities as others within the community?
Does it mean that if they were of the same ethnic group they would have no conflict in their Christian community? When Paul writes that since God is one, he will justify the circumcised on the ground of their faith and the uncircumcised through their faith, he does not intend to conclude that the religious traditions should be disregarded by the Jewish Christians. What he questioned was the theological idea of Israel's covenant, a religious claim about God's preference for Israel.
The covenant was an ethnic claim about God's choice for one particular group of people. Paul's letter addressed this ethnic conflict which was also a religious one.
Is it possible that even today we may be tempted to think that we are God's special ones to the exclusion of others?
Let us not fail to notice that both the Jewish Christians and the non Jewish Christians have faith in God, and that should be the main focus but it seems that their other non faith differences made them link their faith to their cultural differences thus making them think that their faith is superior to others, or that they believe in God more than others.
The main issue therefore is not our human faith but God's righteousness seen through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ ; and that whatever an advantage of faith that we may think we have or actually have does not relieve us from responsibility to others,we have a responsibility of faith .
What cultural, political, gender, socio- economic or intellectual differences divide us today and spill over to our faith?
Do these differences make us feel superior?
As we reflect on this passage, let us not forget that the Jewish Christians were referring to the law pointing out that it made them closer to God while the non Jewish Christians were not referring to the law thinking too that they were superior due to that.
What is our agreed reference point when it comes to our faith? Can we have different points of reference?If yes, won't we fight?
Our main reference point is our faith in Jesus.