Tuesday, 7 January 2014
Romans 15:14-33 - First things first
Paul says he has written some tough stuff in this letter to the church in Rome about how God loves the Gentiles and not just the Jews. He's been brutally clear at several points that being in God's family is not about circumcision, keeping the law or being a physical descendent of Abraham but it's about trusting and following Jesus, whatever your human heritage. It's not about the family into which you were born. It's about being born again through Jesus into the family of God.
Paul's written rather than visited Rome because he's busy telling the Gentiles about Jesus. He's prioritising. Paul's ambitions match God's gracious call on his life to do this (v15-16) and he attributes the success of his actions to Jesus too (v18). Could we say the same of our ambitions and actions?
It's not that Paul doesn't love the church in Rome. They're family and he plans to visit them soon to enjoy their company and get help for his work. He's got one more job to do first and having read this letter, it should come as no surprise that he's making a priority of delivering a financial gift from Jewish Christians to Gentile Christians. He knows he's doing the right thing and he trusts that Jesus will help them understand.
He asks them to struggle in prayer with him for his work. This is so important. If we're serving Jesus, we all need people who love us enough to pray for us a lot! And we need to invest ourselves in prayer for people we know who are serving Jesus too. Not rushed prayer. That's not struggling. Unhurried, proper conversation with God about people we love and for their work to be used by Jesus to bring more people into God's family.
He finishes by saying how much he's really looking forward to seeing them. He's been slogging but he hopes to receive refreshment and rest from them when he visits. All Christians need this too. Brothers and sisters who do them good and help them rest.