Welcoming When It Matters
Paul is helping the Romans see a basic vision for the new communities that include Jew, Gentile, Roman, foreigner, slave, free, prosperous, poor. At the same time they transform the life and actions of all by the renewing of mind. The center is what happened in Jesus – living in a world created and sustained by the one God seen in Jesus’ self-giving love. This creates a living body with a great diversity of body parts: gifts, cultures, weaknesses. Welcome/accept/take to yourself is the basic theme, tested when serious differences arise. We sense distance: “weak in faith”– eating vegetables? Faith to eat everything? To us “weak in faith” means doubt. We might reverse the terms. For Paul “stronger faith” is seeing the meaning of Jesus’ story to define a relationship to God by real transformation by Grace, Faith, and Love, rather than various religious practices. But Paul knows those practices carry great weight and are a powerful language for both Jews and Gentiles.