Today I’m experimenting with the idea that AND is like a blinking light to pay attention to when I read Scripture. I might be tempted to skip right over that one little word until I remember AND links the words or phrases either side of it to emphasize they go together. So here goes…
Colossians 1-13: Segments direct from the NIV.
4 …we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus AND of the love you have for all God’s people— 5 the faith AND love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven AND about which you have already heard…6 …the gospel is bearing fruit AND growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it AND truly understood God’s grace. 7 You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, 8 AND who also told us of your love in the Spirit. 9 … We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom AND understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord AND please him in every way… 11 …so that you may have great endurance AND patience. 12 AND giving joyful thanks to the Father…13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness AND brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves…
Your faith in Christ AND love for all God’s people happened because of a hope stored up for you in heaven. That hope allowed you to hear the true message of the Gospel AND see it bearing fruit AND growing. You learned about God’s grace AND your love in the Spirit came to life in visible ways.
The Spirit gives you wisdom AND understanding so you really can live a life worthy of the Lord AND please him with your joyful thanks. You’ve been rescued from darkness AND brought into the kingdom of the son he loves in whom we have redemption AND the forgiveness of sins.
Romans 1 – New American Standard Bible (NASB)
1 Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son, who was borthe Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, 6 among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; 7 to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
When I first read this passage my inclination was that it didn’t meet my study criteria of looking for ways to understand the effect and application of Grace in today’s world and in my life. Here’s what changed my mind.
“…through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ;…” And here’s why.
This Sunday I’ll be in church. I’ve chosen my churches carefully since becoming a believer. I know it’s just a building filled with people who are drawn there for many reasons. It’s likely there would be a very small number of people who would declare one of those reasons to be “needing the obedience of faith.” But up in front stands a man who has been given that charge of Grace, “in His name,” regardless…
• Regardless of what we think we need or what he knows we need, he speaks of offered Grace.
• Regardless of our recognizing his elevated status he confesses his own need for Grace.
• Regardless of strife in the body, he hopes Grace will prevail.
• Regardless of exhaustion when sacred and moral duties use up all his energy and time, it’s Grace that makes him put one foot in front of the other.
• Regardless of sometimes being a wounded target, it’s Grace that heals and encourages.
• Regardless of all the evidence to the contrary it’s Grace that lets him look out at our faces and believe “you also are the called of Jesus Christ.” That’s real-time, real-life Grace…Regardless.