Paul echoes his opening rhetoric of affirmation – Romans are full of goodness, knowledge,
And able to admonish, guide and direct each other. He is distancing himself from condescension – People deserve respect.
When you offer your truth, opinion, testimony – do you imaging your audience this way?
Part of the breakdown of our civil society starts here – demonizing others as stupid, ignorant, leaderless. Liberal elites caricature working people, and ordinary people type-cast professionals but Paul writes anyhow – admitting that it is in part a bit bold – to remind Romans (and us) of what we already know – and appeal to us as potential allies.
This is not command-and-control strategy, but building a movement of shared purpose, with room for different gifts.
Paul’s gift and mission, as he defines it, crediting God and the Spirit for it, is apostolic, to the Gentiles, a minister or servant or priest of Christ Jesus, as others have the gift and mission as priests of the Temple, Paul will help Gentiles respond, as Temple priests help Jews respond, to the grace of God.
Becoming sacrifices through offering sacrificially. We don’t use the word ‘sacrifice’ as Paul did – search the word ‘sacrifice’ on billbrucewords.com for more on that – lLast summer, I noted a novel by Joyce Carol Oates – ‘The Sacrifice’ (2015) – left in the church study - an alleged ‘white cops rape black girl’ event in New Jersey, through the voices of various characters – who is, and is not, the ‘sacrifice’ in racialized America?
Last summer, I also noted a 2014 novel by Dave Eggers - ‘Your Fathers, where are they? And the Prophets, do they live forever?’ (that’s from Zechariah).Again, the novelist speaks through characters’ dialogue, about post-boomer generations’ loss of purpose. Who is, and is not, the ‘sacrifice’ in post-industrial America?
This summer, I’m enjoying ‘Radical Sacrifice’ by Terry Eagleton – you might fairly worry that I am going to follow through - ‘Leviticus’ in September and October – the code of ‘sacrifice’ and ‘purity’ needs a reading, from our glib liberal and left of centre pov!
The rest of today is Paul’s ‘boast’ – a nod to his decade of work from Jerusalem and Judea,
Through Syria into Turkey, then Greece and even Balkan frontiers.
As a person seeking employment, I may be oversensitive to the conventions of boasting –
Inflated resumes, listing successes – and the dangers of allowing modesty to hide light under a bushel. I preached that once as ‘Humbler Than Thou’ – Imagine Paul in 56CE, pausing to acknowledge change since Jesus’ death – and accelerated growth in the movement in its second decade – God was up to something, and Paul was participating, but not running the thing!
Our most recent decades, perhaps since 9-11, or a burst ‘tech bubble’ see accelerated decline in our movement. Is God chastising our liberal vanities? Your and I are participating, but it’s not all our fault!
I keep preaching that God’s doing fine – but we have lost our assurance that we’re helping God well – ‘where does my world need mending, and who will help’ that’s ‘Mending the World’, our church’s report in 1997 how have our alliances changed, and do we feel more connected, or isolated and mistrustful?