For while we were still weak! (Romans 5:6 ESV) This weekend at International Lutheran Church we confess our faith in God who gave His life for sinners at just the right moment. Over the summer months while we are “on the road” visiting supporting churches of our work with ILC, I will be sharing with you this New Testament book of Romans and exploring the depths of God’s love as well as our calling as citizens of His Kingdom of Grace in a series entitled “On the Roman Road.” God bless us with His wisdom as we explore the “timing” of our salvation!

The Epistle to the Romans is probably the best known of all the New Testament epistles (letters) to the churches. Romans is the first letter in the list of New Testament documents after the book of Acts and well known for its clear articulation of the Gospel – “the power of God for salvation.” (Romans 1:16) While the Apostle Paul wrote this letter to the church in Rome, it is unlike his other letters in that he had not yet visited Rome, let alone start the church in that place. Instead, with this letter he hoped that he would be able to visit and secure their support for his mission goal to take the Gospel all the way to Spain (Romans 1:8-15; 15:22-33). For this reason, the letter helps us understand the core of the Christian faith and Gospel with its emphasis on Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice on our behalf. The grace of God is clearly and unequivocally pronounced in the section we read today with the words – “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

There are many moments when we might sacrifice or risk our lives for one another. I am sure many of you are thinking of the people in your life that were there at just the right time to be with you in the moment of your weakness or need. Maybe it was a family member or a close friend. It might have even been a stranger whose calling in society is to protect and serve such as a doctor, nurse, teacher, policewoman or man, public servant, or many others. Even if their reason for helping was because it was their profession, many of these individuals take up these professions because they genuinely care and want to make a difference in the lives of others through a life of service to others. Paul likely had this in mind too. He lived at a unique time of extraordinary social peace and public service. It was truly a “golden age.”

So, the thought of doing something for someone in need, even sacrificing one’s life for another would not have been unheard of. Yet, in a society of justice, the idea of sacrificing one’s self for an enemy would be unimaginable. Perhaps it is just as unimaginable today. We are often eager to call for justice as we should, but then only see this justice as something to be deserved by the actions of the other. So, the action of God, the timing of God does reveal something unlike anything we can or should expect in normal everyday life. While we were weak, while we were sinners, while we were enemies – at that moment, Christ died for you, died for me, died for all. The timing of God’s salvation says it all – grace, love, undeserved kindness, a power that sets us free to truly serve our neighbor, even if he or she doesn’t deserve it.

As we worship today, may the God who reconciled Himself to us while we were still alienated from Him draw us together in Him for a life of service to our neighbor.

Pastor Carl