May we find the grace of courage and wisdom to let go and follow Christ more closely, seeking justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly. May we let go of our "advantage," our need for advantage, our false sense of advantage, our attachment to the feeling of superiority that "advantage" brings us. May we accept that following Christ is enough, abundant, liberating, and joyful.
9 What then? Are we any better off?* No, not at all; for we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin, 10as it is written:
‘There is no one who is righteous, not even one;
11 there is no one who has understanding,
there is no one who seeks God.
12 All have turned aside, together they have become worthless;
there is no one who shows kindness,
there is not even one.’
13 ‘Their throats are opened graves;
they use their tongues to deceive.’
‘The venom of vipers is under their lips.’
14 ‘Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.’
15 ‘Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 ruin and misery are in their paths,
17 and the way of peace they have not known.’
18 ‘There is no fear of God before their eyes.’
1) "...under the power of sin;" "...not even one;" "...all have turned aside;"
2) When used to manipulate and control people with the fear of damnation, and to make people crawl in the mud with shame, the doctrine of original sin is a terrible thing. But when we are thinking that we are better than those people over there because we've earned some grace through works righteousness, or simply because God's grace is free for "us," but not for "them," the doctrine of original sin is salvation. I happened to be thinking of this as I was running this morning. I guess that's what happens when I do a continuous reading of Romans and Psalms for my daily lectio practices! I start contemplating the texts more continuously... who knew? Paul goes to great lengths to remind us that God is not partial. If God were partial, God would not be the God who made heaven and earth. I wonder if today, we might think more in terms of shadow. No one is without shadow. I like how Janet Gear describes shadow as when everything good goes absolutely wrong, we become the opposite of what we would be. Rather than patient, I'm angry and resentful. Rather than hopeful, I'm discouraged and cynical. Rather than attentive and empathetic, I'm self-important and discourteous. The list goes on. So let go of our sense of being "any better off" because we are ...whatever... fill in the blank... and simply be grateful to be following Christ.
3) To let Christ be our All in All. To let go of being "any better off" than anyone else.
"Holy One, lead us, I humbly pray."
Breathprayer: "Who is righteous... not even one."