Sunday, September 18, 2005

Romans 1:1-17

I have more in common with a Christian living in the most remote part of Africa than I have with my peers at work who are not Christians. The bond with our peers and the things of this world that we hold in common are insignificant when compared to eternity. We have an eternal bond with our fellow Christians.


In Romans 1:1-17 we see that Paul is eager to get to Rome to meet his fellow Christians and most importantly to preach the gospel. He wanted to go to Rome on several occasions, but for various reasons had not been yet. He identifies with his fellow Christians in Rome, and speaks of being mutually encouraged (v. 12).
In the opening verses, I see some things in Paul that are lost on many modern day Christians.


The first is his passion for preaching the gospel of Christ.
In the very opening, he briefly outlines the gospel, and speaks of how often he has prayed that he would have the opportunity to go to Rome to preach. I don’t think it is a coincidence that he starts his letter by speaking of being a servant of Christ. He speaks of Jesus fulfilling the law and being the Son of God. He speaks of Jesus rising from the dead. In verse 17, he speaks of the Gospel revealing God’s righteousness, and how that righteousness is transferred to us by faith.


Before going on, I want to say that I am not opposed to movements such as The School of Lifestyle Evangelism. However, Paul did not say that he wanted to go to Rome to meet with other Christians and take a stand on social issues. He didn’t say that he wanted to go to Rome to meet with other Christians and be a witness for Christ by not having sex with prostitutes like everyone else. I think a lot of times we pat ourselves (or at least I pat myself) on the back because I say no to something or I take a stand for an issue that I feel is important. I sometimes think that it is a good witness, and that others can see Christ in it. While there is some truth to this, I don’t think non Christians care for the most part that we do or don’t do certain things. I don’t think that by not being a gossip, that someone who is a gossip will look at you and want to be a Christian because of it. It is the Gospel that has the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes (v. 16). We should be preaching the gospel to people, not just trying to live a life in front of them so they can see that something is different. It’s like waiting for them to come to you. We need to take the message to them. It’s like we have the truth, but only give it out when someone asks. Shame on us.


Next is emphasis on what we have in common.
He wants to be mutually encouraged, and he wants to preach the gospel with them and to them. He realizes the bond that gospel gives between individuals. Even though I don’t live like it, I have more in common with a Christian living in the most remote part of Africa than I have with my peers at work who are not Christians. The bond with our peers and the things of this world that we hold in common are insignificant when compared to eternity. We have an eternal bond with our fellow Christians.


What do you think about the gospel? Do you agree that the gospel should be our primary focus, or is just being an example enough? Is explaining the gospel to someone somehow “judging” them? Would explaining the gospel to someone just magnify the image of Christians as judgmental, intolerant, or narrow minded?
What do you think about what we have in common? Since we have such a great salvation in common, why is it that we appear to have more in common with our coworkers and other peers than our fellow Christians?

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