Day 20

December 17

December 17

Romans 15:7-13

7 Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. 8 For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of the truth of God in order that he might confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, 9 and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, "Therefore I will confess you among the Gentiles, and sing praises to your name"; 10 and again he says, "Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people"; 11 and again, "Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples praise him"; 12 and again Isaiah says, "The root of Jesse shall come, the one who rises to rule the Gentiles; in him the Gentiles shall hope." 13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Overflowing with Hope

by Randy Woodruff

The Jews and Gentiles to whom Paul writes believe in Jesus Christ. Yet, those two groups distrusted, even hated each other.

They did not eat together. They were not welcome in each other’s homes. They called each other names. Jews were taught, from an early age, to avoid and distrust Gentiles; and the Gentiles did the same. Those who ignored or attempted to break down those barriers were punished through ostracism and worse.

Browse social media today. Listen to public rhetoric all around us. All too often, we are encouraged to distrust, hate and exclude groups of people with whom we do not agree. While not identical, doesn’t the first century world sound similar to our own?

What might we learn from Paul’s approach to enmity between the Jews and Gentiles of his time? Paul argues and exhorts, “accept one another,” because Jesus is a servant of the Jews and sent to the Gentiles as well – because Jesus is there for all the world.

Paul says, “May the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

In my experience, joy and peace come from a mind centered on Christ in the midst of a chaotic world. In just a few days, it will be twenty years ago that I returned to Baylor as a staff member. Among the reasons for leaving Sugar Land, Texas, and a different industry, was a sense of calling to work for a place that makes a lasting difference in the world.

Baylor’s mission is “to educate men and women for worldwide leadership and service by integrating academic excellence and Christian commitment within a caring community.” The call to “trust in him” and serve the entire world by educating new generations stands as a bright light in my life. I am reminded now, as I was when we began that move during the Christmas holidays of 2001, of the joy only Jesus can provide.

Through the birth of Christ, joy and hope came to Jew and Gentile, to all of us. Again this Christmas season, God invites us to open our hearts and lives to him. When we do so, we too will find joy and peace, and we will overflow with hope.

Learn More About Our Guest Writer

Randy WoodruffRandy Woodruff

Randy Woodruff is the assistant vice president for internet services in the Information Technology Services Division and associate vice president for digital marketing within Baylor’s Division of Marketing and Communications. Woodruff (BA ’82) returned to Baylor in 2002 after a nearly 20-year career in Information Technology leadership roles. Most of those years were spent in global oil field services businesses.

Woodruff’s areas of expertise have included systems programming, network development and management, IT service delivery, project planning and management, strategic planning, eBusiness and business process improvement. In the four years immediately before coming to Baylor, he worked in strategic IT planning, senior IT management and the development of strategies and methods to utilize the Internet.