Our scripture this morning is Romans 11:17-24.
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, 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. You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!
I don’t know a lot about branch grafting, but it was already practiced in Paul’s time. Like Jesus, Paul uses examples from nature that people can understand. Here he speaks of how the Gentiles – all who are not Jews – can become part of God’s chosen.
Paul tells us that the divisions between us are artificial, of our own invention and not God’s. This passage speaks of God’s fairness, that those unproductive branches are cut off and replaced by fruitful branches grafted in. However, it also speaks of God’s mercy, that those who call on Him in faith will be saved.
Paul warns against arrogance in being chosen, which does not demonstrate faith and can incur God’s wrath. We are all God’s children, made in His image and called to share His love with everyone. May we go into the world joyfully to spread the Gospel.
Heavenly Father, we are grateful for our relationship with You and all the gifts we have received. Bless us to be Your representatives, telling all that Your kingdom has come near. Amen.