Romans

Expecting inspiration?

Written by Blue Pipe Thoughts

After the dreary details of legalistic worship in Leviticus I thought it would be nice to delve into something ‘totally Christian’. I toyed with the idea of tackling a gospel but then remembered that the epistle to the Romans has been cited by many Christians through the ages as one that has inspired (and in some cases initiated) their faith. I expected to be inspired too, and was surprised when I wasn’t!

  1. People generally know of God, but not the gospel
  2. God’s kindness is supposed to cause a change in you
  3. All are sinners, but all can have righteousness, through faith in Jesus
  4. The uncircumcised are Abraham’s Descendants by faith
  5. One sin condemned many, God’s grace in Jesus restores all
  6. Through baptism you are dead to sin, so be obedient to God and live
  7. Sin is inert in us, until we try to follow goodness, then it flares up like a fatal illness
  8. We have hope because the Spirit lives in us – a love connection that cannot be broken
  9. Paul feels sad that some do not accept the gospel, but glad that some do
  10. Listen. Trust. And confess that Jesus is lord
  11. The branches of the gospel are growing from, and on, the root and trunk of Israel
  12. Offer yourself to God, and serve the calling of your heart
  13. Government is God’s servant, taxes are God’s assistant, the only debt you should owe is to love
  14. Don’t argue with other Christians, the details of belief matter to you, not to God
  15. Through the Jews the gospel has come to many, I (Paul) plan to take it further yet, with the support of other Christians
  16. Hello! Hello! To all Christian brothers and sisters

Reading through my headlines here, it seems like quite a nice read, but in the case of a Romans, a quick glance is a bit deceptive. What you don’t see are Paul’s various rants. Straight away, in the first chapter, Paul rants against homosexuality. After reading a whole chapter on this topic in Leviticus I had hoped for more spiritual content – less writing about what people should and shouldn’t do with their bodies. Paul’s voice carries that same legalistic tone which dominated Leviticus and his convoluted arguments and counter arguments are pedantic and (quite frankly) dull. During the great era of rhetoric which dominated Roman culture, Paul’s manner of speaking was probably very on trend, but today the comment that I suspect most would post if Paul’s epistle were a blog is TL;DR.

My favourite part was definitely the greetings at the end, where he puts down his agenda, his legal speech and for a moment we catch a glimpse of the friendly and enthusiastic man he must have been. In chapter 16 he seems so keen to make sure that no one is left out of the greetings and introductions, and the bit towards the end where his ‘co workers’ leap in to add their hellos is just delightful.

I have thought before that it’s easy to lose sight of Paul when you focus too hard on the details of his teaching. So, even though my headlines skip a lot of the content of Romans, I wanted to try to grasp something of the essence of this man, as I have met him in scripture – a man who took Christianity geographically further, and spread the message of God’s saving love more indiscriminately and generously than any other apostle in the new testament.