Called to Belong

Romans 1:5-7

Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake. And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.


One problem that may have puzzled the government is homelessness. Most homeless have problems of liquor or substance abuse, financial, relational or psychological problems. Homelessness is also featured in the Bible.

It says in Mark 5:2-8, When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an impure spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.

When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? In God’s name don’t torture me!” For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you impure spirit!”

The homeless man was possessed by impure spirit. The impure spirit did not have faith but recognized Jesus as the Son of Most High God.

We believe in Christ because He gave us faith in Him, and He welcomes us so that we belong to the family of God. By God’s grace we are saved.

1. Grace

Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake.

It’s by God’s grace that sinners like you and me belong to God’s family.

Not by human effort but by faith in Christ, we obey the Lord. In the eyes of God, the inclination of human heart is evil all the time. We don’t care about the will of God. We want to do what is good in our eyes. We want to be on our own.

The Lord Jesus said in Mark 7:21-22, 21 For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.

Christ is the Truth. Whatever He says is true. When He says, “Out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come,” it is 100% true. But by God’s grace, we are saved. From what? We are saved from the punishment of sin. Our salvation includes freedom from sin. Sinful nature can’t control us to think of evil anymore.

Freedom from sin doesn’t include freedom to do whatever we wish to do. The human heart is inclined to do evil. When we accept Christ as Lord, we’ve got to be controlled by His Spirit, and we live a lifestyle of righteousness, and Christ becomes our Master. In short, we also become slaves of Christ’s righteousness.

Ephesians 6:6 says. 6As slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart.

As Christ’s slaves, what is His will for us? Paul exemplified the lifestyle of a believer. Paul obeyed Christ by faith, and sent out to be apostle to the Gentiles. Similarly, by God’s grace, we are also saved by faith, and God prepared mission for each of us. The Lord sends us to tell others what He has done to us.

Earlier, we learned that Christ gave freedom to a homeless man who was possessed by impure spirit. Christ helped the man for a purpose. It narrated in

Mark 5:18-20, 18 As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. 19 Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20 So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.

When we put our faith in Christ, there’s glorious desire to follow Him. We want to be with Him. Christ did not tell the homeless man to follow Him. Instead, the man begged to go with Jesus. There is an inexplicable desire of wanting to be with Christ forever, why? When God’s grace prevails in us, we desire to be with Him. It says in Ephesians 2:8-10, For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

The homeless man begged to go with Christ, why? He may have thought that he doesn’t belong to his community anymore. He may not want that those who chained and bound him when he was still demon-possessed will feel guilty.

One can easily imagine the fear among his community when he returned.

But instead of accommodating him, Christ instructed him to go home to his people, and tell what the Lord has done in his life. Similarly, when Christ freed us from the pressure and influence of sin, He has also prepared in advance a good work for us to do, and that is, to testify of His work in our life, how he changed us.

The homeless man was instructed to return to his people. How about us? Who is our target audience? Apostle Paul was called to testify to the Gentiles.

2. Gentiles

  6 And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

After we believed in Christ as our Savior, we belong to Him even if we are Gentiles. All non-Jewish people are Gentiles. The term “Gentiles” means “ethnic, tribal or cultural group” of people or “nations.” Jewish or Gentile Christians belong to the Lord Jesus Christ forever. What does it mean to belong to Christ forever?

It says in 1 Peter 2:9, But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

We are a royal priesthood. Did you wish prince or princess? Do you think that royal families have the most enjoyable privileges? Yet, the latest drama surrounding the royal family of Queen Elizabeth II opens up the reality that not everyone enjoys the demand and responsibilities as members of a royal family.

Quiet Life

An article ‘Enjoying Quiet Life in Canada: A Weight Has Been Lifted.’ describes the life of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. A friend said that their duties and responsibilities as members of the royal family were too heavy for them to carry on their shoulders. Early this year, they announced their departure from royal duty, and the rules governing their old life no longer apply to them. Their decision was like, A weight has been lifted off their shoulders.”

Similarly, when we were chosen to belong to Christ as Royal Priesthood, many Christians may feel like they are carrying a burden on their shoulder. Why?

God told Moses what He requires of His priests in Exodus 19:5-6, Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”

Jewish people are God’s chosen people. God gave them instructions on how they live as His chosen people. The biblical story of the Jewish people, their exile caused by their disobedience teaches that to belong to the Lord is not easy.

Why? God’s requirement for His people is godly, and we can only obey the Lord by godly effort. By human effort, we feel the burden. Christian life is heavy burden for us to carry when we try to obey God with our best human effort. That should not be the case. Christ promised that if we come to Him, we have rest!

Christ invites us in Matthew 11:28-30, 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

If Christ’s yoke is easy and light, why is it that many find it hard even to be punctual during worship services? It’s because the yoke of Christ is easy for Him. He didn’t say, it will be easy for us. Meaning? Instead of working by human effort, we need to abide by His yoke. His yoke is His teaching, instruction and guidance.

When we come to Christ we are yoked with Christ. So, when Christ moves, we move with Him, not against Him or away from Him. To be yoke with Christ is like a 1st time newbie cattle to be yoked with a veteran cattle. The newbie cattle follow the examples of the older cattle. They move cohesively and unified which makes it easier and faster for the newbie cattle to learn and become expert itself.

Few more years of being yoked with the older cattle, a wise farmer will use the former newbie as veteran cattle and yoke it with the next newbie cattle.

That’s discipleship process. Christ is the expert of God’s work. We must learn from Him. Then, the Lord will yoke us with newbie disciples that He will train with us before sending them out to make disciples also.

See? Christ’s mandate to go and make disciple is very easy. Of course, if we let Christ to guide and teach us. So, we’ve got to pray that we may see clearly when Christ gives opportunity to work together with Him. Our question is: Are you yoked with Christ? Did you accept Christ as Lord and Master of your life?

Like a newbie cattle needing the guidance of a veteran cattle to be used effectively by a wise farmer, God is the Wise Farmer who yokes us with Christ for us to effective in our lifestyle as His children. We belong to the family of God.

3. God

To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Don’t be confused! God loved everyone in the world but He just called all believers in Christ to be His holy people. What does it mean to be holy people? God consecrates, sets us apart for special purposes. He also sustains us with His grace, and we experience peace from God when we obey Him.

Potential believers or those who were not called yet as God’s holy people cannot understand why we spend time worshiping the Lord. Still others consider it as waste of time to rest for a day every week just to gather together to worship the Lord. Why? They’ve got no peace from God that surpasses understanding. Surely, we may not convince them to believe what we practice but no problem!

It says in Philippians 4:6-7, Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

When peace from God prevails in our hearts and minds, it keeps us from anxious thoughts. We may not understand everything, we may not be able to explain to others logically, but we don’t worry about it, why? The peace of God is more than enough. It manifests faith that God takes care of our concerns.

SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome)

Have you heard of SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV)? An epidemic of SARS affected 26 countries and resulted in more than 8000 cases in 2003. It’s assumed to be an animal virus from an uncertain animal reservoir, perhaps bats, that spread to other animals (civet cats) and first infected humans in the Guangdong province of southern China in 2002.

Today, novel coronavirus scares many travelers going or coming from China and Hong Kong. People are quick to say that God is dealing with China.

Possibly, but everyone can be infected with deadly disease, and not just coronavirus. There people who died accidentally while traveling domestically, or internationally, by land, sea or air. Others have died while watching TV or while sleeping. Death is a reality that we just cannot deny or control. It comes anytime.

As believers of Christ, we belong to the family of God. We should welcome death as transition to our glorification and to eternally experience the joy of living with our heavenly Father and His Son our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.

Apostle Paul testified in Philippians 1:20-26, 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.

Not many among us can accept that dead is better than alive. Death ends our opportunity for fruitful labor. But, if God allows us to keep on living, like Paul, we should aim for fruitfulness and make disciples to earn for ourselves treasures in heaven. To be with Christ is the best eternal experience ever. Do you agree?

There is real joy in making disciples that translates to eternal treasure.

It says in Revelation 4:8-11, Day and night they never stop saying: “‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.” Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: 11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”

Have you ever asked why they never stop saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty” in heaven? As we grow closer to the Lord, we can sense the unending joy of giving thanks and praise to Him. And, the more we obey God we sense a greater magnitude of warm closeness as members of the family of God.

Young people in this church have accepted the challenge to help in kitchen chores. Are they grateful that parents prepare food for them every Friday?

I supposed, they have found the joy of their belonging into the family of God.

All of us who belong to the family of God, please read Galatians 6:9-10.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

May God shower us with His love that may overflow to serving Him obediently!

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