"Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs so that the Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy.." Romans 15:7-9
Yeah, do you remember playing in elementary school? I was often one of the first people on the wall after getting zinged with a hit. Then, for what usually what quite a long time, I was sitting along the wall, watching the game go on without me. I was eagerly waiting for someone to get a catch so I could come back in and rejoin the game.
Believe me, it applies.
Around these two verses, Paul talks about the Scriptures and the hope that the people of the Old Testament had for the Messiah to come. Then I got to thinking about the old way of doing things. There were lots of regulations on life back then and a lot of them involved separation from the camp when violated. That's what covenant life looked like when God asked His people to be holy and set apart. Lepers, thieves, aliens, people outside of the covenant, and others were sentenced to time, if not a life, outside of the camp. That was a dark place to be--vulnerable to robbers and animals and isolated from society. This was sitting on the worst dodgeball wall ever. Spiritually, we were all there and had no hope of getting back in the game.
I got to thinking, though...when it comes to life outside the camp, our waiting is over. As verse 8 says: Christ has become a servant of the Jews. He came outside the camp to dwell with us, took on our leprosy at the cross, and brought us back in. We don't have to look forward to that promise of freedom. We have it! The wait is over. We've been given a catch and are back in the game!
I remember those kids in my class that would be so bent out of shape that they were on the wall, that they didn't even realize they'd got a catch to get back in the game. Somebody had to give them an elbow to the rib before they realized what had happened for them. They were waiting for something that had already arrived and was theirs. How often are we still waiting for the freedom that has already come? How often do we still live like we're sitting on the wall? What are you waiting for?! Be free!
But don't just stop there. The text says accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you. Later in Corinthians, Paul talks about how we are reconciled in Christ, no longer outside of the camp. Now reconciled, we are given the ministry of reconciliation, to show others that they are no longer separated! So what does that mean for us? Get outside the camp! You don't have to wait--Jesus broke the barrier. He ate and spent time with people that most all were too proud to associate with. He sat on the dodgeball walls of our world and let people know they had life in Him. He is asking us to do the same.
So what are you waiting for?! Rejoin the game. As we await the second Advent of Jesus, think of those still sitting on the wall. Pass on the freedom--let them know they're already back in the game.