Oct. 16, 2020, Romans 1:8-17
You might have noticed that sometimes reading the Bible feels like reading someone else’s mail. The reading today definitely feels that way, and the reason is because that is exactly what you are doing. The book of Romans is actually a letter, from a pastor to a community of believers. There are some personal feelings and hope expressed by Paul; he wants to encourage the Roman church, and he is encouraged by them. He wants them to know the sincerity of his desire to be with them. He explains his delay in coming because it pains him to imagine that they might assume it is caused by callousness on his part. Most of all, he wants them to know them main thing—the Gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ.
A valid question might be: “why should we be concerned with reading someone else’s 2,000-year-old mail? What does this have to do with me? The answer is found in that same main thing. The Gospel is the only main thing, and unless everything else comes second we are in danger of missing the point of life itself. Four times in this reading Paul mentions the Gospel (or good news, depending on your translation) and five times he mentions faith. This is everything and without it we have nothing: The Gospel is the power of God at work saving us by faith. If you ever wonder what God is doing in the world, this is it! He is at work saving people, and the way he does it is by his graciousness, and by our faith in that graciousness. By faith in Jesus Christ we live, and the Gospel is the only thing that will satisfy the longing in our hearts.
All of Paul’s life revolved around it, and his hope for the Roman church was that their lives would too. That is our hope for you too, church. As you read this, hear Paul’s heart beating for his brothers and sisters, and hear our hearts beat for you. Think of those you love, and realize that sharing the Gospel with them is the most powerful way that you can express that love—the power of God at work!
Questions for reflection:
- What clues does this reading give about Paul’s relationship with the Roman Church? Is it strong? Is it mutual? What is its foundation?
- What does Paul mean when he says he is not ashamed of the Gospel (good news) and why does he feel the need to say that? (Hint: 1 Corinthians 1:23) What does it look like when someone is ashamed of the Gospel? What does it look like when someone is free of that shame?
- What does it mean that the righteous will live by faith? What does it mean for eternity, and what does it mean for daily living?