Today’s Bible Reading: Romans 11
As we enter Romans 11, the apostle Paul makes it clear that God welcomes the Gentiles into his kingdom just as much as he had done with the Israelites. Jesus’s gift of salvation is for everyone and Paul is trying to reach out to the Gentiles in this letter to spread the Good News.
I particularly loved the image of the olive tree in this chapter, where Paul compares the gentiles to wild olive shoots being grafted onto a cultivated olive tree. Olive trees and the oil they produced were of course of great significance for people at the time of Jesus. Olive trees were beloved and sacred trees in this region. They were the symbol of peace and friendship. And it is surely no coincidence that the branch that the dove has been portrayed as bringing to Noah on the Ark was that of an olive tree, symbolizing hope for a new beginning.
Romans 11:17-18 (NIV)
17 If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, 18 do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.
We are all supported by the root, irrespective of whether we are part of the original tree or grafted on. I think that that is a beautiful image, a hopeful image. The love that God has for us is the root that nourishes us in our daily lives. The weather above us may change – sometimes sunny, sometimes rainy, or even perhaps stormy – but the root remains the same. And while we all may have different origins, may have different stories, we are all woven together in this beautiful tree and held together by God’s love for all of us.
Being part of several Groups here at CedarCreek church has allowed me to experience this concept on a very personal level. Each Group I am part of is very different.
One does Bible journaling and wonderful crafts while we all chat with each other about our lives. One is quite serious in its study of the Bible, with the amazing leaders of this Group always thinking of new ways to bring the Bible alive for us all. We even had our fearless leader lay on the floor one time with others of the Group to demonstrate how Jesus and his followers would have laid around the table at the last supper as it was customary at the time (portrayals of them sitting around a table on chairs is actually historically inaccurate)!
Another group watches the LivingItOut Discussion Video each week, which is then followed by deep discussion of the questions posed in the video. We also always share a potluck dinner beforehand in this Group, which I think really wonderfully bonds the Group in fellowship. Another Group also has dinner together first and then watches and discusses a video by Andy Stanley, each time teaching me something new.
I know, I go to a lot of Groups, but they help connect me to my root, God. They are all such wonderfully supportive people, with whom I laugh in good times and who are my rock in bad times. I do not know what I would do without them! I am sure that there is a Group out there for you too! I highly recommend giving it a try, if you are not yet part of one.
Have you thought about which people in your life help connect you to the “root” of God?
Are you surrounding yourself with people who have a positive impact on your life or for whom you could be a positive influence?
Have you thought about joining a Group?
If you are not yet a member of a Group at CedarCreek, think about joining a Group. Guest services at your campus can get you connected. If you are a member of a Group, spread the word about how awesome your Group is.
Dear Father, thank you for letting me be part of all these wonderful Groups. Thank you for letting them be my root together with your love for me. Please help me connect others to you by supporting those whom I love in my life as well as by helping acquaintances and strangers wherever I can. Amen.
This post was written by Cordula Mora. Cordula is a neuroscientist who currently works in the Provost office at Bowling Green State University. She was born and raised in Germany, then spent many years living in New Zealand before settling in the US almost 16 years ago. She was raised in a German Protestant church but feels blessed to have been spiritually awakened when she was introduced to CedarCreek Church. She thanks God every day for all the blessings in her life, including two amazing daughters. She is currently looking for someone who would like to serve the Lord with her.
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