Romans continues. At the beginning of chapter 2, the reader is in for a surprise:
Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things. ~ Romans 2:1
While Paul has been speaking of "those people" in the third person, in a sense, lulling the reader into a false sense of security ("Yes! It's true! Those damned perverts! Thank God I'm not like them, with their echo chamber of self-congratulations..."). And suddenly... it's not about "them," it's about "you." Whoever you are. Because by judging others you prove that you yourself are guilty.
Here's my favorite line: Or do you despise the riches of [God's] kindness and forbearance and patience? (v. 4) Great question. Why is God's grace and mercy intolerable to some?
Here's the line I claim for myself from this morning's lectionary, discomfort though I have with "shepherd" language (I tend to think there's one Shepherd; the rest of us religious professionals are very lucky sheepdogs, running around and nipping at people's heels). But today I feel compelled to claim this, the way I believe my congregation would claim it if you asked any of them to describe my ministry among them today:
I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. ~ Jeremiah 3:15
That's what I am, a shepherd/ sheepdog after God's own heart. And God is after my heart, too.