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Lenten Devotional: Mar. 7

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Today’s texts: Genesis 44:1-17; Romans 8:1-10; John 5:25-29

God’s ministry of Grace (Romans 8:1-10 )

I am a person of multicultural self; an Asian American woman, a wife, mother, daughter, professor, a church member, friend, and a mentor. As such, my Asian personal professional cultural norm is an underlying hidden set of rules that is highly patterned; a set of unwritten, unspoken, implicit cultural rules that controls everything that I say, do, perceive, or behave.

As I reflect upon on Romans 8:1-10 the problem that inhibits transformational process in depth, width, and heights that is in accordance to God’s grace clearly emerges. I see why Christ found it easier to walk on the water or raise the dead than developing the inner person’s heart change. I see why people refuse to change for transformation that identifies with God’s heart. I have searched and researched and meditated upon why so many of God’s children, particularly of Asian descent, for that matter so many Christians do not grow in the knowledge of grace. They are still bound to the law of “do’s and don’ts” rather than Kingdom living in God’s grace (Romans 2) through the Spirit of Christ.

Our mind is a reflection of the culture. Therefore, we interpret God’s original intent culturally.  Asian hierarchal culture emphasizes obligation driven by duty. In that, God is the ultimate rank; therefore, the obligation and duty-bounded interpretation have a danger of “either/or” and “do’s and don’ts” is erroneous understanding. The biblical language interpreted in Asian hierarchal obligated duty-bound interpretation causes erroneous misunderstanding of “either/or.”

The word, “now,” in Romans 8:1 is critical preposition for us to reflect God’s grace. God’s grace is an essence of his being. Grace of God is the inner logic of his essence.  It is not contingent of time on human “do’s and don’ts.”  Karl Barth says, “We must understand God is the measure of all reality.”  Meaning, we must know God’s eternal grace exists first, and then time. His covenant of grace in Romans 8:1, “now,” is unilateral not bilateral. It has nothing to do with our being spiritual or holy (“brownie points”).

God’s intention of the Law, which is unbending, absolute standard, perfection, no compromise, no choice, no chance or either/or. What is God’s purpose in giving us the Law that we can never achieve? I believe that God wanted to destroy the illusion that we can be like God (Genesis 3:5).  Jesus Christ came to fulfill the Law (Matthew 5:17-19). Not a single jot and tittle will pass away until all the Law is fulfilled. When Christ was crucified, the Law of “either/or,” or the perfectionism is dead. The Law of flesh of “either/or” is dead (Romans 8:5-6).  But when Christ resurrected from the dead, the Law of life in Christ came alive. This is God’s grace.

Sheer emphasis on do’s and don’ts in Asian, hierarchal, obligatory, driven by duty, concentrate setting on sheer will-worship (“Do it yourself kit”); not on God’s grace.  If the truth of God’s grace sets us free to life and peace (Romans 8:4), then the flesh binds us to death (Romans 8:6).  Paul’s assertion here is whatever we set our minds on will ultimately determine our behavior.  Minds set on the flesh are death.  But the minds set on the spirit are life.  Many of believers who find themselves enslaved to “do’s and don’ts” are under mistaken beliefs of transformation.

God is the source of grace through Christ.  “The Law is indeed given through Moses but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:16-17).  The choice of interpretation through hierarchal obligatory duty-driven culture is susceptible to the assumption of similarities projecting human cultural norms on God’s creation intent of grace.  Minds set on the flesh of “do’s and don’ts” bring perpetual defeat and death.  It is the lie that inhibits transformation towards mindfulness of God’s grace.  God’s truth always sets us free.  Then the lie binds us to death and never pleases God (Romans 8:7).

A person growing in the knowledge of God’s grace is exhilarating liberated from all human futilities.  Life is both loved and held loosely in the grace of God.  If not, we will disappoint the world cosmically how a God’s grace oriented life will look like.

Faith Kim Dr. Faith Kim is Professor of Intercultural Education at Golden Gate Baptist Theoloical Seminary . She is also the chair of Intercultural Education there and Director of GGBTS’s Orange County CLD Center. Dr. Kim was instrumental in instituting the bilingual Master of Divinity track at the Southern California Campus and the David and Faith Kim School of Intercultural Studies at the Northern California Campus. She authored Distinctives of Korean Culture: Forces Shaped Her Culture.

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