A NEW OUTLOOK
Powerful God, help me to remember that no problem is too small to escape Your concern and no perplexity is too great to resist Your solutions. How great You are!
Read Romans 1:8–17
Paul’s Longing to Visit Rome
8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. 9 God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you 10 in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.
11 I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— 12 that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters,[a] that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.
14 I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last,[b] just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”[c]
- Romans 1:13 The Greek word for brothers and sisters (adelphoi) refers here to believers, both men and women, as part of God’s family; also in 7:1, 4; 8:12, 29; 10:1; 11:25; 12:1; 15:14, 30; 16:14, 17.
- Romans 1:17 Or is from faith to faith
- Romans 1:17 Hab. 2:4
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ReflectReflect on these words: ‘I am not myself by myself. Community, not the highly vaunted individualism of our culture, is the setting in which Christ is at play’ (Eugene Peterson, 2005).*
My husband and I attended a theological college that was full of people from all over the world. Each week groups from different denominations would take their turn running chapel, and it was fascinating to be exposed to very different ways of worshipping God.
Paul is writing to a Roman church where tensions are running high over perceived differences. Jewish Christians had been expelled from Rome under the reign of Emperor Claudius (see Acts 18:2) and would have returned to churches dominated by a ‘Gentile’ way of doing things. What other divisions are apparent in Rome (v 14)? There are also divisions between race, language, culture and intellectual abilities. Paul calls everyone to re-examine their loyalties.
Look again at verses 16 and 17. This is the ‘thesis’ statement for the whole letter. How does the gospel, particularly the shame of the cross, ‘which is the power of God,’ break down walls between people?
Ultimately, God’s people are not defined by nationality or culture, but instead they should be united by a love of Christ. Pray that you will feel a greater sense of unity with Christians who are different from you.
Thank You Lord that You have made me for community. In my social relationships, may unity prevail.
*Eugene Peterson, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places: A Conversation in Spiritual Theology, Hodder and Stoughton, 2005, p 226
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