Romans 11:16-24: Haughty-cultural Christianity
- Arrogant branches
- Humble branches
Christians often act like children. I don’t mean in the good and childlike-faith way Jesus encouraged in the gospels but in the sinful and immature way of the playground. Think back to your youth and the laws of the jungle that we lived by. There were the cliques, the in crowd and then those who were out. We remember being on the outside of some group we desired to be a part of and remembered the mortifying humiliation of not being included because we took our sense of value and identity not from what God says about us but what others think of us. Then remember the time you were included the great relief you felt, and then all of a sudden you had the power to approve of others being accepted and you were a brutal gate keeper who kept out those who are as desperate as you used to be. You excluded on the basis of any difference be it race, sex, the music you listened to, or the part of town you came from. You had a sense of your own superiority and were conceited and felt yourself better than others. You split off into rivalries and in a mob mentality abused others whether it was physical, verbal or emotional. The trouble is we don’t outgrow these tendencies, for they are the tendencies of sin. We may not have the same childish reasoning, but the same behaviour still takes place in the life of adults. We long to be included for our sense of value; we become brutal gate keepers who keep people out; we are still shallow in our evaluation of other people not seeing them through the gospel of grace but a worldly score keeping system; we may have spiritualised our disobedience by dressing it up in legitimate theological arguments but still mistreat people. They say kids are cruel; well they are a mirror of ourselves and what is going on in the church in Rome.
The Jews were once the in-crowd. They looked down their noses upon other races thinking themselves superior because of the blessings that God had given them. But they had become blinded through pride and did not receive their Messiah. Most did not think they needed a saviour from sin but a saviour from the Romans and clung to their man made traditions instead of Christ. God therefore judged the nation of the Jews, and in doing so made a way of salvation open for the Gentiles. God started a new group, there were some Jews, but the majority of this new group were made up of Gentiles. Some of the new group, some of the Gentiles were saying that the small number of Jews did not have a right to be a part of their group and wanted to kick them out or see them treated as second rate citizens; they grudged the culture of the old group and wanted to start with a clean slate; they were reasoning to themselves that they were God’s new favourites and this was proven by the fact that so few of them were believing. It is these childish and prideful ways that Paul addresses in Romans 11:16-24.
Through the horticulture analogy of the olive tree Paul addresses the haughty-culture Christianity of the church in Rome. As we look at these verses we will be dividing them into two parts looking firstly at the arrogant branches, and then at the humble branches.