We are always looking for the reveal. We want to know what we don’t know- what is behind the curtain, inside the door, around the bend, through the veil, over the mountain or at the end of the darkness. This is why we go on treasure hunts as children and spend hours looking through old notebooks, we are looking for something special, something hidden that we think exists. It is our longing for the unknown to become known, the hidden to be disclosed. But what exactly are we looking for? Why are we seeking creatures?
Because we perceive there is a rightness to the universe and yet we can’t seem to find it, so we look in hopes that it will be revealed. As we enter into a friendship we hope to find it but are let down, the start of a new job may disclose it but quickly we see the flaws, we join a new church or project at work and we feel we are still in the dark.
Sometimes we hope to find the rightness within but here too, it is found missing. Whether it be inconsistencies based on our own ethical codes or the overt breaking of a moral religious law, the rightness we want to find, the standards we desire to keep, the face we hope to maintain, simply is not there. We think maybe beyond what we currently can see, taste, touch, smell or hear is where that rightness might live. There may be something behind the curtain, around the bend, over the mountain, seen by the morning light that will finally let us in- some insight, some experience, some accomplishment that we can say- I found it, I see it now, I didn’t before but now I do!
Romans is a letter penned by a religious extremist named Saul of Tarsus who was convinced he had found and achieved the rightness of the universe through his personal achievements when one day an obscure peasant Rabbi from Galilee, who had recently been put to death by a Roman torture device, named Jesus, makes Himself known to Saul.
In Jesus’ revealing himself, Saul realized that the rightness or righteousness he thought he had found on his own had actually arrived as an alien resource in the person of Jesus. He realized that the reveal of God is that the rightness of the universe is found in Him and that he has made it available through identification or faith in Jesus alone. And this reveal was such a profound experience that he devoted the rest of his life helping communities across Asia Minor, Greece and Rome discover this reveal about Jesus.
And the reason this reveal has been so impactful is because it speaks to the deepest part of our condition. The revelation of God’s righteousness as a gift to the world is a kind of discovery under all discoveries because it answers the questions we didn’t even know we were asking. It helps us understand why our human experience is so difficult and it tells us the story of what God has done to restore us. It is the account of how God fulfilled his promise from long ago to bring all things together, to create a new humanity from deep fractures and ultimately a new world out of brokenness.
Romans is perhaps Paul’s clearest and most detailed explanation of the gospel and how the revelation of God’s righteousness in Jesus finds its fulfillment back through Adam, Abraham, the nation of Israel and ultimately to the gentile world. The message of Romans is that God has revealed the righteousness we have all been looking for in Jesus and that this good news God is the fulfillment of the promise He made to the nation He formed through Abraham that the world would be blessed through faith not works.
And this letter has literally shaped our world today through some of the greatest thinkers and theologians of the past 2000 years. Augustine, Luther, Wesley, Barth all had the curtains pulled back, the doors swung open and for the first time they found the rightness of the universe they had been looking for in Jesus.
Between now and Early May we will be exploring the depths of this reveal, how this reveal impacts our human condition and how this reveal impacts our human communities. I personally can not wait to journey with you through the letter to the Romans.
grace + peace ,
Reading Plan By Week
01/15-01/19 Romans 1
01/22-01/26 Romans 2
01/29-02/02 Romans 3
02/05-02/09 Romans 4
02/12-02/16 Romans 5
02/19-02/23 Romans 6
02/26-03/02 Romans 7
03/05-03/09 Romans 8-9:13
03/12-03/16 Romans 9:14-10
03/19-03/23 Romans 11
04/02-04/06 Romans 12:1-12
04/09-04/13 Romans 12:13-End
04/16-04/20 Romans 13
04/23-04/27 Romans 14
04/30-05/04 Romans 15
05/07-05/11 Romans 16