Paul, the Pioneer
Loving God, You are the Great Forgiver, cleansing my heart and renewing my mind. I rejoice in Your grace.
Read ROMANS 15:14-22
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.
“The ground at the foot of the cross is level. Both Jew and Gentile are welcome” (Peter Marshall).
Paul had never been there, but the pull of Rome had been part of his life since he was born a Roman citizen. He was also a Pharisee, proud of his Jewish heritage, passionate enough about its purity and survival that he had set out to destroy the infant church before the Lord stopped him in his tracks and sent him out to win the Gentiles. We can glimpse here and in his other letters his Spirit-led passion to bring together into the work of the kingdom both Jew and Gentile, especially in the capital of the greatest empire. There is something appealingly human about his reassurance, perhaps addressed partly to himself, that they were competent to instruct one another, and yet at the same time he tells them that he felt he had to write boldly, and at length, on certain issues!
We can also glimpse his concern and anguished prayer for the new fellowships scattered across the eastern Mediterranean, churches he founded and left to local leadership as he moved on. Bringing together Jewish practice and his call to evangelize the Gentiles, he talks of his priestly duty to bring the Gentiles as a holy offering to God in terms that are unambiguously priestly and sacrificial. The Gentiles, excluded from the Temple and its sacrificial rituals, had now become an acceptable and welcome offering, pleasing to God, offered up by a man who lived “according to the strictest sect” (Acts 26:5) of Judaism, before his life was overturned by his Lord. That is Paul’s glory, his apostolic service, fulfilling the prophecies of Isaiah, that God “will send some … to the nations … And they will bring all your people … to my holy mountain in Jerusalem as an offering to the Lord” (Isa. 66:19,20).
“Christ’s uniqueness gives him universal significance: he must be made known throughout the world” (John Stott). In the light of these words and Paul’s comments in today’s passage, examine your commitment to world evangelization.
Lord, I praise You for my conversion, for those who taught me the faith, nurtured me and encouraged me to walk with You.
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