Reading in Romans 9 this morning I could feel the anguish in Paul as he desperately grieved for the salvation of the Jews. After all, he himself was a Jew and he grew up with so much passion and fire for the law. He was extremely educated from childhood in all the traditional Jewish ways, and he was so devout that he was widely feared because of his intense persecution of the early church called “The Way” before Jesus literally knocked him off his horse and changed his life forever. Paul loved the Jews with all his heart, and for him to express such an emotionally driven statement to say he would almost be willing to give up his own salvation for the sake of theirs is a big deal. He wanted so badly for them to see what God had done so powerfully in his own life so that they could choose it too. He was torn and grieved over their rejection of Jesus because he was so aware that the Jews were God’s original chosen, favored people full of purpose, promise and provision just for them. But they just refused be pulled from their traditions and all that they ever knew. Paul even requoted a scripture from the prophet Isaiah that said “Look! I am putting in Zion a stone in Zion to trip over, yet the one who believes on Him will not be put to shame” Paul recognized that Jesus was the stone they were tripping over because of their lack of faith. In fact, Jesus himself had also quoted this same prophetic scripture directly to the Jews in the book of Matthew. As I read this, I thought about all of the people in the world who are also “tripping over the stone” because they grew up in religions that were built around their families and their ethnic heritages. For some, the cost of turning to Jesus means being completely cut off from their families and for others, it’s matter of spiritual blindness because the family tradition is built so deeply into their belief systems that to reject what their families have taught them feels like complete and total disrespect. Reading this today provokes me to pray for people in my life who are stuck in mindsets of family tradition. Those who haven’t yet responded to the gospel because they are either complacent, fearful of the rejection consequences or those who have just been blinded by tradition. We all have people around us that are in these categories and our hearts should grieve and desire for their salvation like Paul did for the Jews. They have been put in our paths so we can pray for Holy Spirit to reach them where they are, and so we can present the gospel to them in our daily interactions with them. We aren’t responsible for the outcome of their decision, but we should definitely be pursuing them. We are all called to be waterers and cultivators, but Holy Spirit ultimately does the drawing and leading.