Before Jesus Lifts, Jesus Levels

Prayer of Consecration

Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.

Jesus, I belong to you.

I lift up my heart to you.
I set my mind on you.
I fix my eyes on you.
I offer my body as a holy and living sacrifice to you.

Jesus, We belong to you.

Praying in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.


What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? Much in every way! First of all, the Jews have been entrusted with the very words of God.

What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness? Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar. As it is written:

“So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge.”

But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.) Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world? Someone might argue, “If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?” Why not say—as some slanderously claim that we say—“Let us do evil that good may result”? Their condemnation is just!

Romans 3:1-8 (NIV) 

Consider This

I’m not going to lie. Romans is hard. Today’s text is hard to make heads or tails of for me. I get the feeling someone out in the audience has lawyered up and is asking the kinds of questions a person asks when they don’t get (or don’t like) what’s being discussed. They are the questions of a religious person whose heart is not right. They are the questions of a person who doesn’t really want answers but rather wants to play the part of an agitator. It’s kind of like when people don’t want to hear what you are trying to say so they ask ridiculous questions that obfuscate the whole conversation. It’s kind of like those people in the Bible study who never do the homework and instead of being quiet, they try to convince everyone of their intelligence by releasing their pet rabbits into the room so others might give chase.

It is very difficult to deal with uber-religious people on the one hand and recently converted pagan heathens on the other. Maybe I’m missing it, but that’s how I’m sizing up the scene here in Rome. And the truth is, these two groups of people don’t get along. It’s a judgment-fest. It’s kind of like that scene in the movie The Jesus Revolution, when the pastor’s daughter invites all the unkempt and uncouth hippie Jesus freaks into their prim and proper church and the deacons pitch a fit and start to leave.

In a poignant scene around this point in the movie, the drifter-hippie turned preacher, Lonnie Frisbee, (ironically played by Jonathan Roumie who plays the part of Jesus in The Chosen), says to Chuck Smith, (pastor of Calvary Chapel played by Kelsey Grammar),

“There is an entire generation out there searching for God. My people are a desperate bunch—and desperation—there is power in that word. What would it take for you Chuck Smith to become desperate?”

I think I cried for the rest of the movie after that.

Paul is desperate to reach the lost Gentiles, but he has to deal with the legalistic Jews first. What we are witnessing here is the master stroke of the gospel. Before Jesus lifts, he first levels. All the status markers in the house, especially religious ones, must go. Truth be told, this is what most churches need most. We need the most religious people in the house to rend their hearts and repent. We need the families who think they own the church and run the place to stand down and make room. The gospel is a wrecking ball for comfortable, conventional, respectable religion. The ground is level at the foot of the cross. Why does this matter?

Because there is an entire generation out there searching for God.

What would it take for you to become desperate?


Jesus, we belong to you. Yes, Jesus, I belong to you. Jesus, you are the gospel. We confess we have tried to fit you into our program and make you serve our agendas. We like our familiar crowd and our easy beliefs. Would you level the ground under my feet? Search me and show me the ways I have put myself on a higher level than others. Convict me of my secret pride. Holy Spirit, awaken me to the desperation of Jesus who is searching for those who are desperately searching for him. Praying in Jesus’s name, amen.


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