Romans 15

Romans 15 is the start of Paul winding down his letter to the Romans.  He begins by reminding them that they are all part of the Body of Christ and as such have an obligation to each other.  “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak…..let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up”.  We don’t live on an island.  God put us in our patch to make a difference.  We are to bear one another’s burdens – to come alongside one another and lift up the load.  We are to build each other up.  We have an important role right where we live to make a difference.  Paul reminds us that “Christ did not please Himself”.  Life is not just about you or I doing what we want without regard to those in our patch.  It is about paying attention to the folks that need our assistance and coming alongside them joyfully.  We are obligated to get involved – not just stand idly by and watch things happen without our involvement.   Easier to look the other way isn’t it.  Easier to be too busy or out of touch?  But God has placed us where we are for a purpose.  We do matter in the lives of others.  We need to take action as He leads us!

Paul continues by challenging the people to live in “harmony with one another….together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ….welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you”.  We are supposed to get along.  We are to be as one in Him.  We are to treat our brothers and sisters warmly as Christ did each of us.  How did He welcome us?  With arms stretched wide – with love that took Him to the Cross to bear our sins – with a commitment to us that caused Him to give His life for us.  Not some wamby pamby handshake and weak smile.  Jesus welcomed us with all He was.  He gave it all for us.  That is the kind of unity and harmony we should have as the Body of Christ.  We should be one.  How can that be?  Paul gives us the answer “by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope”.  We can’t do it on our own steam.  Someone will get under our skin.  Someone will irritate us and we will focus on the one or few we struggle to get along with rather than welcoming the rest.  The enemy is good at keeping division and dissention alive within us.  We have to let the Holy Spirit have control and make us one.

Paul reminds them that “I have written to you very boldly” and that is an understatement for this book of Romans.  He has been in our face on a number of very important issues.  But these things have been core to our faith – the basics of salvation – the foundation of how we are to live.  Paul writes about things we probably wish he would have left unsaid because they challenge how we live.  His words require us to face the reality that sin is real and has a price.  His words are clear that failing to deal with sin means death and separation from God.  His words are very clear that Jesus and God’s grace through Christ are the only way to eternal life with the Father.  And he reinforces the truth that there is no excuse – everyone will have to give account for what they have done with Jesus. “Those who have never been told of Him will see, and those who have never heard will understand”.  There are no free passes.  Everyone has to answer.  What have you done with Jesus?  Even if you don’t clearly understand – that will not be an excuse.  Make sure you have your answer because God will be asking!

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