The reading is from Romans 3:21-31:
21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. 28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30 since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31 Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.
This year for our confirmation curriculum we are covering the Ten Commandments and the Apostle's Creed. The first week of January we finished up the Commandments and these verses hold tightly to a conversation we have with the young people.
As Lutherans, we talk A LOT about grace and how we are incapable for doing anything to achieve the redemption and salvation that we receive through Christ. The kids hear this and thus I usually get asked "Why do we even need the Commandments (Law) when we already have everything through faith? Can't we just forget them?" Count on kids to figure a way to reduce the rules they have to adhere to. My only response to them is that we no longer have these laws as a standard to achieve. We no longer fear of being unworthy. Instead, we lift these things up as a response to our God saying, "We thank you for your gift of salvation, let us do these things to show our gratitude for all you have given us."
When we are truly grateful for what God has done for us, our only response is to live within the vision He has for us. And that means adhering to the things that God has put forth as the best ways to live in relationship with Him and each other. As Pastor Roy used to explain it: It is not about you shall not kill/lie/cheat. It is more about "As God's children, we don't kill/lie/cheat."
Father, help us to live lives of grace and love. Amen
Chad Ryberg email@example.com