Romans 3:21-26 (NRSV)
But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus.
Politicians and social media participants happily point out which group is at fault in these divided times. No matter where we are on the political spectrum, we can blame the other side for the wrongs done in our society. In doing so, we might even feel as if our very existence has been justified.
When our local church reopened for in-person worship recently, we tried something different for the pews. We decided to use ribbon to mark off which pews we can use. The ladies who tied the bows for the ribbons did a marvelous job, but after thanking them for their work, I noticed something peculiar.
Earlier, when I had shown them what I envisioned, I had used a roll of blue ribbon to demonstrate. They had other colors available, too: pastel green, pastel pink, and red. When they were finished, we ended up with blue ribbons on the left side and red ribbons on the right. It was not a preplanned political statement; it just happened that way.
I mentioned this when we were back in our first in-person worship service. I lightheartedly said that the Democrats did not have to sit on the left, nor did the Republicans have to sit on the right. I finished my remarks by saying, “All sinners are welcome here.”
The only way we can be justified is by faith in Jesus Christ. All of us, no matter the political persuasion, can receive redemption that comes through him. Being lumped together by faith in Jesus Christ surely gives us a different perspective on life, even our political life.
Lord God, you want all to believe in Jesus Christ so all may be in your kingdom. Our arbitrary divisions of political class do not change the fact that all of us are sinners. Use the righteousness that you have given us through faith in Christ to heal the relationships in our local church, our community, and our nation. For we realize we can only be found in your kingdom by being in Jesus’ name. Amen.