Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Romans 9:1-33 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: In 2015, a group of ten individuals were asked to stand in a line holding hands. As qualifications were read, participants were asked to either take one step forward or one step back depending on their answer. Some of the options were:
“If you were born in the United States, take one step forward.”
“If you or your parents have ever gone through a divorce, take one step back.”
“If you felt like you had adequate access to healthy food growing up, take one step forward.”
“If you are reasonably sure you would be hired for a job based on your ability and qualifications, take one step forward.”
“If you have ever been bullied or made fun of based on something that you can’t change, take one step back.”
After the list of 35 privileges or disadvantages were read to the group of ten, their initial position, standing alongside each other hand in hand, was broken into many pieces. Some were positioned far ahead, others way in back, and some near the middle.
The difficulty with these qualifiers is that none of them have anything to do with a person’s choice. Privilege is not something you can work for or lose; it just comes with the territory. As we enter into this series, titled “Family Privilege,” I encourage you see not only the privilege Paul describes in Romans 9, but also the privilege that each of us individually holds today.
The Israelites had privilege. They were God’s chosen people. This translated over to the Jews. God took care of them, gave them the law, showed them the right way to worship. They were special. So what does that mean for us? Paul takes us through stories of the Bible and uses the power of Jesus to show that we are not held back from the goodness and salvation of Jesus because of circumstances we cannot control.
Recalibrate: In what ways do you have privilege in society? In what ways do you have privilege in your church?
Respond: Ask God for a heart that empathizes with others.
Research: What are the struggles our society has today with privilege?
Remember: “Is God unjust? Certainly not!” (Romans 9:14, KNT).
Jessyka Albert has been associate pastor at Boulder Adventist Church since 2016. She grew up in Washington State, graduated from Union College, and is engaged to Kiefer Dooley, Rocky Mountain Conference associate youth director. Pastor Jessyka has a particular passion for children and youth, and is instrumental in creating amazing faith experiences for these groups.
The Bible tells us, in Romans 9:3, that Paul wished he could take the place of his people. Take your little one for a walk today and talk to them about how much you love them. Tell them of all the adventures they will have, the people they will meet, the problems they will face, and that there is nothing you wouldn’t do to save them from heartache or pain. Know that our Heavenly Father feels the same way and that is why Jesus came.
Have you ever felt sad or anxious about something? Paul opens Romans 9 saying he feels just like that. Full of anguish and sorrow. In the end of Chapter 8, he talks about how nothing can separate us from God’s love, but then in the very next chapter he is full of sorrow and anguish. Why? What is it about the Israelites that makes Paul so sad? Verse 31 tells us that the Israelites pursued the law. What do you think God would have wanted them to love more than the law?
What does the word "privilege" bring to your mind? It makes me instantly think of growing up in St. Louis. In my public school, there were many students from vastly different walks of life. Many of my friends grew up in very poor neighborhoods where drug abuse and gun violence were prevalent. Each day after school, I would hop on my bike or skateboard and make the neighborhood mine. I didn’t live in the best neighborhood, but it was safer than many. I would be out all night until it would start to get dark, and I knew it was time to go home. Looking back, I realize that my ability to roam freely around my neighborhood was a privilege. I didn’t realize it then, but many of my friends from school couldn’t do that. What is a privilege you have that you take for granted? What are some ways you can become someone who is more aware of the blessings you have in your life?