Thursday of Lent I – Romans 10:8b-13

 “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

I have been a pastor for over thirty years but lived in a pastor’s home since birth. I was raised in small Midwest communities and lovingly embraced by communities of Lutherans. I have enjoyed serving the people of God’s Lutheran congregations in other places. He has led me to serve wonderful people and to walk with them in times of joy, sorrow, tragedy, and love. I am grateful for that. But I am also grateful that for part of that time, prior to its closure, I was also given to be a professor of theology at Concordia University, Portland. There I was given to interact with a far wider slice of the population than my parochial upbringing and parish ministry ever afforded me. I remember a devout Christian woman from the Marshall Islands, pious Russian Baptists, a Bulgarian colleague who had been baptized after communism fell there. I taught many who were not of the Christian faith and far more who were.

Through that experience I came to understand verse 12 above far more richly. God’s loving kingdom, His Lordship in Jesus Christ, is far larger than anything I could ever have imagined. In Paul’s day, there were those who could not fathom that God’s love would extend to ham-eating and sabbath-working gentiles. The great struggle of his ministry was to expand his hearers’ horizons to see that God’s love is bigger than they thought. I praise God that He has not stopped expanding people’s vision, including mine.

The teaching and dedication to the truth must go on, but always because Jesus is Lord of all and bestows his riches on all who call upon Him. With the heart we believe and are justified, with the mouth we confess and are saved. God has worked such believing hearts and confessing lips in so many and varied people. Praise Him today!

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