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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, August 3, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Romans 9:1–5

I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience confirms it by the Holy Spirit— I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people, my kindred according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, comes the Messiah, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen. (NRSV)

Reflection
I’m skeptical when someone begins with a proclamation of truth-telling. Why start by telling me that you aren’t lying? Now I’m on heightened alert and looking for inconsistencies in your story. Paul begins by insisting he is speaking the truth in Christ, and I am cynical enough to wonder why he wasn’t doing that in other writings.

But what if that statement—I am speaking the truth and not lying-- is the most vulnerable way to start a conversation. What if that first declaration simply bears the soul of the speaker. I have searched my heart and I stand before you in openness and truth. I’ve let down my guard and my armor has been removed. This situation is important to me. You are important to me. No games, politics, or hidden agendas—only truth. Would I be able to meet that vulnerability with my own?

Paul is in deep anguish that his fellow Israelites have not recognized Jesus as the Messiah. He’s willing to give everything to convince them. His love is that deep. This passage doesn’t give us the full flavor of Paul’s appeal. Read further and you will find Paul’s argument that God is faithful to God’s promises. Paul is willing to bet everything on this claim. He wants people to remember their heritage, God’s faithfulness, who God is and who they are to God.

It’s a risky move that Paul makes when he claims to speak from his heart—a heart that is seeking Christ. It’s just as risky when I let down my cynicism, take off my armor, and proclaim, “I am speaking to you from my heart. You are that important to me. Here are the ways in which I know that God is faithful.”

Prayer
God, strip away my protective layers of skepticism so that I may meet people with the vulnerability necessary to build truth-filled, loving relationships. Amen.

Written by Andrea Denney, Executive Director of Operational Ministries

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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