Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 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. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. 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.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 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! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Every time I read this passage in Romans 5 the words, “…While we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” always take my breath away. I serve the Lord Jesus Christ alongside my wife of 42 years in a country, on a continent, thousands of miles and, depending on airline connections, almost a full day’s travel from our five children and seven grandchildren in the United States. We serve in João Pessoa, Paraíba, Brazil.
Brazil like so many countries today is a country of many diverse people groups, an economy that depending on the region can be robust, while still holding large pockets of abject poverty that makes the foreign observer gasp at the disparity between the haves and the have nots, where all too often children are sold for sexual favors to put food on the family table. This disparity is often evident within the same neighborhoods or sections of the some of the largest cities in Brazil.
The apostle Paul in this scripture, Romans 5:1-11, talks about the Peace and Hope that we have in our Lord Jesus Christ. My congregation is a testimony to the economic disparity in Brazil. And the mere self-sacrificing presence of my wife and myself in the midst of these people is a testimony to God’s unconditional love and the Peace of Christ and the Hope we have in God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Our daily challenge, and I suspect yours as well, is to hold in tension, by the life we live, the two-sided reality of the Christian life that Paul describes in verses 1-5. We are complete in Christ and at the same time we are growing and becoming more like Christ. We feel both the presence of Christ and the pressure of sin. Can I be content in my circumstances and with what I have or lack? We enjoy the peace that comes from being made right with God through the blood of Jesus, but we still face daily problems that hopefully help us to grow.
Lord Jesus, help us by the life we live to be a testimony to Your people that You are worthy of our complete trust. That you are here to walk with us through our problems and rescue us from our sins and choices in this life that keep us from experiencing Your Peace and Hope. In Jesus name, Amen.
This week’s reflection has been written by The Rev. Ron McKeon. Ron began his relationship with Anglicans for Life as a staff accountant in 2004 while a seminary student at Trinity School for Ministry, Ambridge, PA. After graduation and ordination to the Episcopal Church Transitional Deaconate in 2007, Ron was elected to the AFL Board of Directors and became AFL’s Treasurer, a role he continues to fulfill. Today Ron and his wife Debby serve as SAMS (Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders) missionaries in the Anglican Church in Brazil – Diocese of Recife in the city of João Pessoa, Paraíba, Brazil. Ron is a parish priest and special assistant to Suffragan Bishop Flávio Soares the Diocesan Missionary Bishop. They have five daughters and seven grandchildren in the USA. Learn more about Ron and Debby’s ministry on their website.