that He may have mercy on all

13 Aug

It was my turn to wash the dishes. I think I was in third grade, maybe second. We were still living in the old house (Spanish stile row of rooms in an L shape around the inside courtyard) in Apolo. I didn’t want to do the dishes, so I decided to run away; and ran I did. The mission owned 1/3 of the city block. The house was on the uphill side of our long 1/3. I ran the length of the property, over the mud wall, and along the creek behind the other two properties on our block. When I got to the street, I wasn’t sure where to go. I don’t remember how I got back into the house, but I did go home not having any other place to go. The dishes got finished late, it was black dark, in luke warm, colding water by the light of a fading kerosene lamp.

It’s funny to think that I have a favorite “disobedience” story, a story I now happen to think is pretty funny. God has a disobedience story for us, too. Paul wrote to the Christians at Rome and said, “For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.” God’s story is actually a grace story, because God in His infinite mercy had poured out His grace and forgiven our disobedience.

The tough phrase in Paul’s letter is “For God has consigned all to disobedience.” I suppose this parallels earlier words in the letter, those that say we all fall short of God’s glory. But there is a fascinating word history (etymology) connection here. The literal translation of the Greek word is “shut up together or enclose.” The word “consign,” the translation in the ESV, comes from the Medieval latin “cosignare” which means “to mark with the sign of the cross.” Can we say that God consigned us to disobedience, enclosed us in disobedience, even marked us with the sign of the cross, that He might have mercy on us? I think so.

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Posted by on 13 August 2011 in Theology


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