When I was kid, the Brady Bunch was already on its 2ndor 3rd(maybe more) round of re-runs. The story is familiar: a widow and widower each have children of their own but join together to create a new family. The show chronicles all their hilarious and heartwarming adventures of becoming a new family, a family whose boundaries have drastically changed by the inclusion of one another.
When I was a senior in high school, what it meant to be a member of my family of origin, the Dyrness family drastically changed. We went from a white family of four, biologically related. Within a matter of months, a Colombian teenager had joined our ranks as well as a adorable 10-year-old black boy from my mom’s class at the school where she worked. We had to learn what it now meant to be a Dyrness with these new boundaries, these new indicators of who was in the family.
In Romans 4, Paul is talking about the family of God, initiated through God’s covenant with Abraham. God entered into a covenant with Abraham based not on Abraham’s worthiness but on God’s own faithfulness. Abraham responded with the divine gift of faith, that is, trusting obedience.
Abraham’s inclusion in God’s great rescue of creation had nothing to do with any indicators that would come to be known as “markers of inclusion:” things like circumcision, eating regulations, holy days, etc. Abraham’s inclusion pre-dates all of that. Any indicators he received did not earn Abraham’s place but rather served as evidence of what God already done.
Paul reminds us that we are a part of this wildly, shockingly inclusive family of God. It is not anything we have done, but what God has done that has brought us into the family. We too have been sealed, not with circumcision, but with the gift of the Holy Spirit. The gift of the Spirit present in us and among us marks us as the people of God.
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Grace and Peace.