The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart.

Romans 9: 30 – 10: 21

Today’s passage is both a passionate cry of awe in response to the righteousness of God, and a lament from Paul for his people. He calls on the riches of the Hebrew Law and the Prophets to expose the counterintuitive and extraordinary nature of God’s grace and generosity, as it is now, and as it always has been.

How had the precious nation of God, Israel, stumbled? They lost their footing by striving for righteousness through fulfillment of the Law. (Righteousness refers to goodness, integrity, worthiness.)

From the beginning, God’s righteousness had been offered to His people Israel, and then through Christ, to all people, through faith. God is not looking for us to achieve a righteousness of our own, an idolatrous pursuit of our own perfection and worth. He is rather inviting us into His righteousness, the righteousness that comes from Him.

And what is this righteousness? It is fulfilled and concluded by Jesus Christ our Lord. “For Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.” Romans 10: 4

His righteousness is characterized by mercy and grace, where the least are first and the humble are put right with God. Where Jew and Gentile alike can call on the name of Jesus, “…the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him.” Rom 10: 12

The Old Testament Law is an expression of the righteousness of God, beautiful and spacious, a place to come into close relationship with Him, “The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart” (Deut 30: 14 as quoted by Paul). Through Jesus Christ, this promised and precious intimacy is offered to us all. Our God holds out His hands to His children Israel (Isaiah 65:2 as quoted by Paul), despite their tragic failure to grasp that grace is at the heart of righteousness. Our God has been found by us, even though we did not seek Him, even though we did not ask for Him (Isaiah 65: 1 as quoted by Paul). The unworthy have been offered worthiness! This is the economy of grace and mercy at the heart of God, lived in Jesus Christ, for Jew and Gentile alike.

For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. For, “Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Rom 10: 12-13

Thank you Jesus that the incredible good news of such a God of righteousness, grace and mercy has come to us. Thank you that you are near, on our lips and in our hearts. May our feet be beautiful today as we take your good news, with joy, into the world.

[Originally posted on 22 March 2017 by Jane Thomas.]