I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit—I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised!
In Romans chapter 9, the Apostle Paul writes of “great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart” for his brothers, his kinsmen, the Jews.
As a Jew who has found Jesus, the Messiah, Paul is brokenhearted that not all of his brothers and sisters know Jesus. Of course, Paul rejoiced that so many Gentiles were being grafted into the Body of Christ. And yet he still mourned that so many of his beloved people had not yet found Christ.
We often feel the pain of those who are most like us, those who are part of our family or have something in common with us. This is a normal, human reality.
Paul was no different than us. He felt very deeply for the Jews, his people.
Like Paul, we can and should serve all people. We are called to serve Christ in every person, in every nation, in every circumstance. But, also like Paul, we can also have a deep burden and passion for our own nation and our own family.
In our nation, we find a people with whom we are bound together not by ethnic background but through constitution and through geography. We also have a shared history, part beautiful and part painful. God calls us to love our nation, and like Paul, to mourn and grieve any time our fellow citizens suffer.
Our nation is suffering now under the darkness of laws that allow for abortion and, in some places, for euthanasia. We are brokenhearted that not all Americans know that life must be protected. Our great sorrow is for the unborn and the ill but also for those who would suffer from these lies in other ways. Most of us have family members who have been affected by this tragedy as well.
But Paul didn’t stop there. All of his life, he continued to reach out to his brothers and sisters. Even when accepted that he was the missionary to the Gentiles, and often had to leave towns, he continued to maintain contact with his kindred and to pray for them.
Likewise, we should never give up on praying for and serving those in our own family and nation, our people. We mourn and we grieve, but we never give up hope. We are always ready to show the love of God in Christ, and give away his free grace.
As Paul wrote, we are “agents of reconciliation.” We are always striving to build a bridge that people can walk across to the love of God. Yes, our hearts are broken, but we will continue to love and serve those in our own families and our own nation.
This month’s reflections are written by an anonymous Anglican.