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The Christmas Challenge Continues: Romans 5

Peace and Hope

Thanks for continuing with me on Deacon Alfred’s challenge to read a chapter a day of Romans until Christmas. If you’re just here for this one chapter, that’s cool, too. Here we go:

5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Death Through Adam, Life Through Christ

12 Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man,and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—

13 To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. 14 Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.

15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16 Nor can the gift of God be compared with the result of one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. 17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!

18 Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

20 The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

My thoughts on Chapter 5 (while traveling across the state of Kansas, making our way back home after an Our Lady of Guadalupe Mass and Celebration in Greeley, Colorado):

Paul begins by writing about peace and hope through our faith in Christ, our Savior. Because of Jesus, we have peace with God and hope in the glory of God. In this troubled world, in times of stress and busyness, I want to linger over the words: peace and hope. I want to say them out loud, roll them over my tongue, feel them deep in my soul. But then, right after those lovely words, Paul hits us with the word, “sufferings” and couples it with the word “glory.” How can we “glory” in sufferings?” Even if I get a hangnail, I fuss and complain. Who wants to suffer? What glory can there be in sufferings?

But, then Paul gives us this formula: because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

I could stop there and ponder on just this much of Romans. I can think on and digest all the above, and recall it through struggles, sickness, and other stresses of life. But, sometimes sufferings run deeper than a hangnail, a sickness, or even a season of sadness. A mother loses her child to Leukemia. A drunk driver kills a man’s wife and child. A son falls to a life of crime because of drug addictions. A football hero takes a gun and shoots his fiance. A gunman opens fire in a public place. A tornado tears through a town and destroys lives and homes. For those who are touched personally by such horrible tragedies, glorying in them would seem impossible.

I’ll return to this thought after a few short words about the remainder of this chapter. Paul discusses the fall of Adam bringing all of mankind into sin and death, but the grace of God, through the righteousness of Christ, has much more power to bring salvation to a multitude of believers.

We are offered the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. We should never forget this greatest gift, especially now, during Christmas season. From one year to the next, gifts will be forgotten, used up, broken, or traded in for a better ones later. Salvation is forever. We carry it with us into eternal life, whether our earthly life ends today, tomorrow, on December 21st or at a ripe old age. Death is inevitable.

So, returning to horrific sufferings. Look at this last line of chapter five:

But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

There is hope. Even through the most difficult situations, God’s grace is there…it can be increased. God will help us through our sufferings. He will give us the grace to continue on. And because of Jesus Christ, we have the hope of eternal life. Even for those who suffer devastating loses, even of loved ones, remember this: One day, in Heaven, we will live in perfect peace with Him and reunite with our loved ones. This is truth. This is hope. This is peace. Thank you Father, for the gift of your son, Jesus Christ. He offers us salvation and helps us through every suffering.