Lord, invade my spirit with Your Holy Spirit so that I may discover again Your amazing love and grace.
Read Romans 16:17-27
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“When people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing – they believe in anything” (G. K. Chesterton). How true. How sad!
Almost at the end of the letter, Paul added an urgent warning. He had talked about the need for humility when dealing with differences over non-essentials, but gentle humility was not the answer when dealing with false teachers who challenged the central truths of the Gospel. Those of us who belong to long-established churches, with many versions of the Bible in our own language, have little excuse for heresies that doubt the atonement and the divinity of Christ or deny any final judgment. But the churches of the first Christian century were pioneers of the faith, having just the Hebrew Scriptures, one or two of Paul’s letters, and the basic stories of Jesus. Paul echoes Jesus’ words telling them to be “as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” (Matt 10:16).
In v. 20 he reminds them of the promise that our God of peace will bring victory over evil. Then, after sharing greetings from those with him in Corinth and its port, he ends with a final prayer, committing them to God. I am tempted to end these notes by simply typing out Paul’s wonderful doxology! As you read it, notice that Paul still has in mind the relationship between God’s people, the Jews, with their rich scriptural heritage, and the new revelation that in Jesus Christ the Gentiles are grafted in, a new Israel.
Like those early Roman churches, we are called to demonstrate the unity that comes through faith in Christ. In a fragmented and frenetic world, loving, caring and outgoing communities are very attractive. Perhaps we can show that the social divisions of status and wealth, race and ethnicity can in the end be overcome and redeemed through repentance, faith and the power of the Holy Spirit.
“As shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” How can your church fellowship avoid being too naïve or too overbearing?
I thank You, Lord, that You teach me, through Paul’s words, to be wise and loving in my relationships with my brothers and sisters in Christ.
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