For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation. For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”)—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become “the father of many nations,” according to what was said, “So numerous shall your descendants be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Therefore his faith “was reckoned to him as righteousness.” Now the words, “it was reckoned to him,” were written not for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raise for our justification. [NRSV]
“I reckon so” sounds like a southern phrase. Use it in a sentence: “I am fixin to get back to work but I reckcon I will drink of coke first.” Which makes reckcon sound like a guess or a plausible possibility.
So you might think Abraham and Paul were southerners. But they Hebrew and Greek respectively and used the other definition of reckon, which is an accounting term: Use it in a sentence: “When Mama and Daddy get home and see you wrecked the car there’s going to be a reckoning.” Someone is going to take responsibility for the restitution.
So Paul’s words to the church, In Rome and in Rock Spring and everywhere, is a great leap of history, covenant and faith. He takes God’s covenant with Father Abraham and looks back at how God comes to bless and covenant with him to explain how God also related with us.
Imagine Paul is making a grand movie, right up their with the 10 Commandment, Ben Hur, Lawrence of Arabia… He’s telling the great faith story of Abraham. Father of Nations and Founder of Faith for generations and generations. The Covenant of Covenants. Opening in a theater this Spring!
He asks of Abraham: “Abraham, what did you do that God was willing to trust you with fathering a nation of God’s People?”
“Hey, Abraham how did you come to be in a place of responsibility, honor and blessing?”
“Ol’ Abraham, how do get in God’s plan and favor?”
Abraham’s answer is: “I did nothing.” “God reckoned it to me.”
God settle the account.
God made the covenant and promise to keep it.
God made the rules and promises to keep them.
God does the work and my response is to trust, to believe, to allow use this tired old body and life of mine for God’s will.
Bam! God fills out all the paperwork, signs the title, the insurance papers, the binding agreements, the association incorporation documents and fills out all the permits.
Abraham gets the keys to the house and linage of the covenant.
A sweet deal.
Paul reflects and show us that God is open to allowing anyone who wants in to join the covenant. The account is paid up and if we want in on the deal. It is reckoned to us through Jesus who paid the price for us all.
We have been talking about this gift of grace that has been totaled up and balanced by Jesus as our ticket to salvation.
Our hope and purpose
Our mission and power
Paul is trying to take a foundational heart of our relationship with God, show that its been in play since the beginning and its cleared up through the love and saving work of Jesus and it applies to us now, even though it began so long ago.
We get the big SO WHAT! rather quickly in this passage. Here we are:
This journey of the Lenten season, driving us toward the Easter prize, but it’s important to know why we are looking forward to seeing Jesus at Easter.
The journey of faith is not just ours. It’s not just the character’s in the Bible stories. It is also our story.
But its not just a RSUMC story, it is the story for neighbors who have not heard, who have heard but don’t believe or who have believed but lost the power and promise of the reckoning.
The Reckoning! Soundly like a horror movie, an end of time, zombie-apocalypse movie with promise of blood and death and suffering.
Our story has all those features, the difference is Jesus has given his blood, he has loved because of our suffering and have given his death so that we have eternal life.
As much as our society enjoys the images of reckoning… we need to lasso there fears, worries and anxieties and tie up the loose ends that Jesus has already tied for us. Jesus is the name in the credits. Jesus wins best lead actor. Jesus is the best supporting actor, best producer, special effects, and best picture. The box office total has been paid by God and God invites us to star in the film, share the red carpet and add our names to the credits.
What Paul is asking is for us to answer the question of faith for ourselves…
Do we believe
Do we trust
Are we in the show or on fan on sidelines
There are the choices
1. I Reckon so…
2. It has been reckdon already..
I guess so, I think so
I know I’m already in the action
You and I might have that answer figured out, but we are surrounded by folks who have not, are confused, are afraid, are hardened and alone. Paul speak out on our behalf..
In this Lenten season, speak out to reckcon, “account” for someone else, invite them movie that is God’s life and family.
Keep passing it forward. God’s show is far from over!