7 April 2016Romans 2:1-11
“Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgement on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things … God shows no partiality.” (vv. 1, 11)
Psalm: Psalm 67
When I first studied theology at university I did so as a trained scientist. I thought I knew plenty, but all of this subject was new to me. I struggled to make sense of it as I prepared for ministry. I found that translating doctrine into verse helped me to work out what it meant. When I was writing hymns for the lectionary the same process came into play. The core of this passage seems to be, take care how you judge others for you are also judged. But it says more. Failure to take care has consequences. We meet wrath head on - not God's anger, but the consequences of our actions built into the world as it is. Wrath is not partial and neither is God. God deals with us all equally, Jews or Greeks - shorthand for those of any faith or none.
shows no partiality
to favour rich or poor;
God sees beyond pretentiousness
and looks right to the core
where every heart is open wide,
and each desire known,
where platitudes are stripped away
and motives clearly shown.
2 God plumbs the depths of fault or fear,
knows catastrophic loss,
then reaches to each present need
and understands each cross.
There is no hurt that is not felt,
no harm beyond God's care,
no darkness light cannot erase,
no pain God will not share.
3 Then from the depth of present faith,
this is the hope we trace,
and this the grace we seek to share
within this time and place;
to show no partiality,
not favour rich nor poor,
but offer here a place of love,
an ever open door.
© Stainer & Bell Ltd reproduced by permission of Stainer & Bell Ltd
Of course this goes a bit further than this brief passage from Romans. I've always felt that understanding Scripture is one thing, applying it in our lives is altogether another. As God is, Christ acts. We who count as disciples should also seek to act.
- What stops us from being impartial in our judgements of one another?
- What tools can we use to help us better understand Scripture passages?