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Romans 5:1-11 (Matthew 9:35-10:8)

June 18, 2017

 

Today, we take time to recognize Fathers.  I think it makes sense that we make special attention the ones who have invested in our lives, though I have to admit that to mention this day of celebration feels a little… self-serving.  Some of you are probably aware that I happen to be a father.  With that title, comes a whole lot of responsibility that I have never felt quite ready or qualified to accept.

While I’m glad that there is a day in our calendar to celebrate fathers, I can honestly say that the pleasure has really been mine.  Whatever sacrifices I made, whatever costs I paid, whatever inconveniences that I had to endure… I would say it was well worth it. 

When I became a father, 36 years ago… it was the scariest thing I had ever done!  But, for some reason, I became one again… and again!  And, now I am a grand-father.   And I am absolutely loving it!

So, while I think it is nice to be on the receiving-end of a little recognition, I can honestly say that my being a “Father” has been one of the best things that has ever happened to me!  My hope and prayer is that you “Fathers” here today can feel the same way. 

I have come to be convinced that God makes us “Fathers” because He has something he wants to teach us.  Something he wants us to know about His Fatherhood – His Love, His Patience, His Generosity, His Graciousness toward us.

Throughout the Bible, God is portrayed through His “Father-like” characteristics.  God as our Protector, our Defender and our Helper in times of trouble, are common themes throughout Scripture.  He is the “source of our being”, our companion, and our friend.

I don’t know how much you know about the different religions of the world, but this is not what is typically viewed as a Deity worthy of our worship.  No, more likely a “god” was someone or something that we spend our lives trying to appease, to placate, to make sure he isn’t mad at us and won’t punish us!  Throughout the centuries, and around the world, people spend their lives trying to find ‘god’ and searching to find a way to get on His ‘good side’ so they don’t have to suffer the consequences.  They live their lives in fear, with little hope in finding something better.

That was definitely the culture in Paul’s day in a city called ‘Rome’, the capitol city of one of the most powerful civilization that has ever existed – it stretched from Britain to Arabia.  The Apostle Paul hadn’t had the pleasure to visit Rome before he wrote his famous letter.  But, he knew of it was the wealthy, cosmopolitan, trade center of the then-known world.

Rome was a city of power.  It forcefully controlled and dictated what people believed and how they behaved.  It’s leader, “Caesar”, was to be honored and obeyed as a ‘god’.  And there were severe consequences if one didn’t.  You’ve heard of the horror of crucifixion… well transgressors of Rome were crucified, drenched in oil, and lit on fire to light the way along passages in the Roman Empire!

Romans worshiped Caesar, but they covertly looked for other, more merciful gods to serve.  Some of them found Jesus, the Jewish teacher who the Roman Government put to death.  It is thought that there were Romans in Jerusalem the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was poured upon those who put their trust in Jesus, and 3,000 declared their faith and were filled with the same Spirit.

Eventually, they went back to Rome.  They met together in homes to worship and to pray and to tell their friends about this Jesus, the Son of the Most-High God, who sacrificed Himself in order that we might have a relationship of love instead of fear.

Sometime around the Spring of AD 57, most likely while he was in Corinth, Paul wrote a letter to these followers of Christ in Rome.  Paul’s letter to the Romans is his longest that is in our Bibles.  The letter has been called “the fullest and most closely reasoned statement we have of the basic Christian truths.”  It is referred to as the “Christian manifesto” because of its theme of faith in Christ as the only ground of mankind’s acceptance by God, who treats all people alike… Jew and Gentile.

Chapter 5 is a beautiful example of what is ours because of the “Father-like” love that God has for us.  It speaks of the new standing we have before God, that is ours through faith in the incredible sacrifice of his Son.   It speaks of the “peace that we have with God”, the Life and consequently the Hope and the Spirit that gives a point and meaning to our life.  By faith, we now stand in grace and we exult in hope of the glory of God.

Romans chapter 5 reveals the loving heart of a Father, who aches for relationship with His kids.  Paul paints a picture of God’s creature’s being weak, helpless, enemies, lost and totally underserving… and how we have been reconciled to God through the death of his Son.

When the Gospel tells us that “Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom”, I can just imagine that He was telling them about what we read in Romans, particularly chapter 5.

We will be spending time in Romans for a while this summer.  I want you to become acquainted with it.  Make it your goal to read through it, slowly, thoughtfully… and talk to someone else about it. 

Tell them about your Heavenly Father, who loves you so terribly much, that He gave his only Son, so that we might have Life and Peace and Hope!

We’ve got some kind of Father!!