Saturday, November 05, 2011

Obligation Nestled into Thanksgiving/Fellowship/Gospel

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, 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.
Romans 1:8-16 (emphasis mine)

Recently I was captured by v14: I am obligated. I am obligated to everyone (that’s what “Greeks and non-Greeks, wise and foolish” means).  This is duty; it is calling; we’re under orders.  We do not have the right to be selective in whom we love and serve.

One of the gracious patterns we see repeated in the Scriptures is that commands are in the context of grace and love and power to fulfill the commands.  We need to see these connecting arcs, rather than pulling out commands in isolation. 

Here the obligation of v14 is in the context of
  • ·         Giving thanks to God through Jesus Christ for the evidence of His work (v8)
  • ·         The desire to serve others – and be mutually encouraged in Christian fellowship (v12)
  • ·         The power of the Gospel message to bring salvation to everyone who believes (v16)

Quick side-note: doesn’t our experience confirm that as we give to others we ourselves are encouraged and strengthened?  Let’s remember this when those natural fears of “I can’t give to this person” come into our hearts.

Praise God for putting such a rich calling of obligation into the context of thanksgiving, fellowship, and life-giving power of the Gospel!

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