Recently I opened the Bible that I used in seminary. THe binding of this green bible is broken away from the back binding, the edges of the pages are stained with coffee, blood, water spots and who knows what else, the four corners of the cover are worn. Inside the pages are folded in odd places, (a result of the convertible top down one beautiful afternoon), there are notes in man of the margins and in other places there are items marked with a highlighter. This Bible looks much older than the one I got in third grade from the church. Someone once saw this tattered Bible and went and bought me a new leather bound bible thinking that it looked much better than the one I used. (That too is on my shelf). My tattered Bible is a part of me. As I look through I am often reminded of of what I learned in classes, I am reminded of life events (both joyful and heartache), I am reminded of how much knowledge is in these pages by all the footnotes, Paul's letter to Rome is the book that has the most markings in it. I believe that in many ways Paul is addressing us still today, the weak and the strong,. Those who are trying to figure out how they fit into a culture that has been pre-established. As I read through much of Paul's letter I am reminded that in our world today there are many people trying to figure out just how to "fit in". Isn't that what many of the young people are saying in their messages to us? Thing about it, two young men from Colorado, a single gunman in PA. another in Colorado and most recently in California. I will be the first to admit, this is all disturbing and who are these people blaming? Not once have I heard them blame God! I hear them blaming classmates or acquaintances for the way they have been treated and it is a scary world in which we life. Paul's writings are written to the Jews that are returning after being in exile, the Jews and Gentiles are struggling to live in the same areas. Paul's task is monumental in teaching the people that we are all in this world together and that by working together we will be able to offer glimpses of hope to those who are feeling "left out". Paul is trying to help Christians understand what it is to be in community with one another, to share with one another the gospel of Jesus Christ. I fond it difficult to understand why with so much induced hurt in the world these young people want to add to our hurt, I think much of it has to do with not hearing about a loving ,caring God who walks with them each and every step of the way and who hurts when they hurt. This summer is a wonderful time to be able to reach out and try to make a difference. Speak to a stranger, (at least a hello), offer to help when events ask for help especially with our young people, somewhere along the line too many of them have been given the impression that they are not acceptable. Paul knows his world is hurting and that division is rampant so he, in his own way tries to make a difference. Is that not what we are called to do?
Romans 15 We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.2 Let every one of us please his neighbor for his good to edification.3 For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.4 For whatsoever things were written in former time were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.5 Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:6 That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.