In chapter 11 of Romans, we see that our Western emphasis on individuals is incomplete. There are several passages like this in the Bible. We need to be reminded that, while we do stand as individuals before God—and we can have a personal relationship with Him, we are also a part of larger groups. We have been created for relationship. “It is not good that man be alone.” Just as God is Trinity and community, we have been designed for community. Family, tribe, fellowship, nation, etc. we exist in groups. In the same way that we are responsible for our own actions, we are partially responsible and answer for the actions of the groups to which we belong.
Here Paul paints the picture of a giant tree. The roots and structure of the tree represent the people that God chose in which to show Himself to the world—the people through whom He would make salvation possible—the Jews. In Paul’s picture, the Jews of his day have been cut off the tree. The Jews by-in-large were not hearing or understanding the message of the Gospel. However, other peoples have been grafted into the tree. Salvation, as had been God’s plan all along, is available to all people groups in the world. These new branches that have been grafted into the tree have their own peculiar qualities and characteristics, but they are supported by the tree that God has established.
The warning for us today is that the same thing that happened to the Jews is a very real danger for anyone other group of people. Individuals cannot lose their relationship with God, but groups who forget their place certainly can lose their usefulness to God. There is no church, nation, or any other group of people who intrinsically deserve their place in God’s kingdom.
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