In this chapter it seems that Paul is addressing salvation for Jews and gentiles. I might be wrong, but it seems that many people might have thought that Jews had special access to salvation. Maybe they thought that non-Jews, or gentiles just couldn’t be saved at all. He talks more about grace, first of all. He’s reminding people that works don’t do anything, it’s God’s grace to us that saves us. verse 6, “but if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace”.
He also talks about grafting branches as an illustration. He talks about branches being grafted onto an olive tree. He talks about branches being cut off, then being grafted again. He makes the illustration that it’s not the branches that makes the fruit, but the plant as a whole. It doesn’t matter where the branches come from.
I can see this applied today in a few different ways. One, we still have a tendency to exclude. We feel like some groups have a more direct access to God than others. I might sound unpatriotic. I’m not. I do see a Christianity that is perverted and whored about here in the good ol’ US of A. We have claimed Christianity for ourselves. There are missionaries that will visit other countries for a short period of time and they’ll help build churches, and they’ll train pastors and they will try to teach people from other countries and other cultures how to be a good American Christian.
Americans are very good of expecting people to meet us where we are. We will never meet people where they are. It’s the same for the people we find in our own country. The American Christian has become a big part of our identity as a country. The American Christian goes to church. He believes homosexuality is wrong, sex before marriage is a sin, abortion is wrong. The American Christian is most definitely a Republican. The American Christian thinks that the government shouldn’t show any help to our poor populations. The American Christian thinks that he is saved, and salvation belongs to him. The American Christian finds himself in the center of his own Universe, (which is only thousands of years old). The American Christian denies all sorts of scientific discovery because he feels that it might challenge his Bible. And, if you disagree with his world view, then you’re not welcome in his church, in his community, on his city council.
I’m not unpatriotic, I promise. I’m just writing down my personal observations. I feel like Americans find themselves as elite. We’re better. We’re special. We are the new chosen people. God favors us. I think this is the behavior that Paul was condemning in this chapter. I’m probably wrong, but that’s what I see. The Jews looked at themselves as entitled to salvation, and they got salvation by the works they did. Salvation is not owed to anyone. Salvation is a gift, and it’s not receive because of what you do. It’s because of grace. Grace is given to everyone, regardless of what flag you pledge allegiance to.