But you must not brag about being grafted in to replace the branches that were broken off. You are just a branch, not the root. “Well,” you may say, “those branches were broken off to make room for me.” Yes, but remember– those branches were broken off because they didn’t believe in Christ, and you are there because you do believe. So don’t think highly of yourself, but fear what could happen. (Romans 11:18-20 NLT)
Paul is convinced that his ministry to the Gentiles will result in the ultimate salvation of the Jews. He spends most of this chapter explaining how and why this will work. What struck me in relationship to worship is that we each belong to a group that shares a worship tradition. We have particular things we do as a part of our group worship. It is too easy for us to begin to think that our way of doing things is not only best, but right. We easily forget the generations of believers whose group worship looked very different from ours without whom we wouldn’t believe. I think it is important to remember those who came before us and to learn from their practices.
Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways! For who can know the LORD’s thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice? And who has given him so much that he needs to pay it back? For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen. (Romans 11:33-36 NLT)
In the end Paul ends up where we should always end up. Our relationship with God is not based on our goodness, but on His incomprehensible greatness. I don’t understand God. I especially don’t understand why He would care about me and desire a relationship with me. The good news is that He cares about all His creatures and sent Jesus to die so that we could all have a relationship with Him forever. Any time I think that I am doing God a favor by doing some religious activity I should stop and read these verses to remind myself how my relationship with God really works. God is the great initiator and I am simply a responder. I pray that all my responses would reflect the character of God so that He can be easily seen by those around me. I know this isn’t the case much of the time and I’m very grateful that God encourages me to keep trying.
For my grandchildren:
Thank God for being beyond figuring out.
Check out mygrandmatime for more Family Bible Activities on the book of Romans.