30th October 2018
Gemma Willis explores the uncomfortable truth as she reflects on Romans 9
Read: Romans 9
I recently watched BBC Horizon’s ‘A week without lying’ – a fascinating experiment challenging three people to live their lives for one whole week without telling a single lie. Embellishments, omissions and ‘white lies’ were also banned.
One of the participants was a vicar.
At the beginning of the experiment she said that she liked to think of herself as an honest sort of person – but by the end she was greatly challenged by her own lying behaviour. The scientific team running the experiment told her that she most often lied by omission – i.e. not telling someone the whole truth, usually to avoid hurting their feelings. Reflecting on total honesty after the experiment she said:
“I think that volunteering information that people don’t ask for and don’t want is rude.”
This struck me as odd. In fact, when I read the first line of Romans 9, it was her voice that came to mind.
“I speak the truth in Christ…” – ‘but not if it’s information people don’t ask for and don’t want, because that’s rude’…
Talking about Jesus with people who don’t know him can be uncomfortable – mostly because they haven’t asked about him, and often don’t want to know about him.
So does that mean I shouldn’t mention him?
In Romans 9, Paul has some very uncomfortable truths to deliver – ones that his audience definitely didn’t want to hear! He wants to make it completely clear that following the rules is not what it takes to be loved by God. God loves everyone, whether they follow the rules or they don’t – because he is a God of grace and mercy. Grace is being given a gift that we could never deserve. Mercy is not being given the punishment that we do deserve. That kind of message wouldn’t have gone down well with people who were obsessed with following the rules.
The thing is, sometimes I need someone to tell me something I don’t want to hear. How else would I change? How else would I learn? Someone once took the time and effort to tell me about Jesus – even though I didn’t want to hear it. But that truth, that uncomfortable truth has changed me beyond all recognition. That truth has given me freedom, purpose and hope.
How might you embrace the uncomfortable truth of Jesus today?
Content Innovator, Scripture Union England and Wales