Text: Romans 15:1-13
To ask for God’s mercy daily
To trust God’s promise and be hopeful
To grow in welcome and hospitality
OVER THE LAST WEEK we have been using Paul’s letter to the Romans to discuss discipleship. We pointed out that discipleship is
+Relational: the disciple of Jesus is called to life with Jesus and with others in a particular community.
+Intentional: the disciple of Jesus is called to practice certain habits of the Kingdom.
+Developmental: the disciple of Jesus lives in that particular community and practices those certain habits over time.
The goal of discipleship is spiritual maturity, or Christlikeness. Jesus Christ comes into the world to set us free and restore our relationship to God. This is God’s initiative—God comes to us to make of us new people, people upon whom he can put his Spirit and who can take blessing to others. Many church thinkers have expressed God’s work this way: The Son of God became human so that humans might become sons and daughters of God. We grow to resemble our elder brother Jesus and act in such a way that others notice the family resemblance. Jesus sees the neighbor in need and ministers to that neighbor; by developing the habits of the Kingdom, so can we.
If you have been sharp-eyed, you may have noticed that I have not yet discussed what advantage walking or living in this way comes to the believer. There are blessings that come to the follower of Jesus—as if the gift of salvation itself is not such a blessing as to cause all others to fade to insignificance! But, as Paul says, we do not do this to please ourselves, any more than Christ acted in order to please himself.
The first disciples left all things behind—homes, livelihoods, friends—but only at the end of three years did they discover the truth: that they would have to give up themselves. They discovered that God did not want their stuff, the material things they could put on an altar like any pagan; no, what God wanted was them—heart, mind, soul, strength. God wanted them to put themselves in his hands. Peter learned it that awful night when he lied as others condemned Jesus to death. Paul himself learned it that crazy day when he, breathing murder and threats, had the very breath knocked out of him and God filled his lungs with Holy Spirit. Luther learned it over long nights in his monastic cell, crying out to a distant God in rage and fear only to discover that God was as close as could be and had done all that was necessary.
These and many others have learned how wide and deep God’s mercy is, how secure God’s promise is, how blessed life with Christ is. And now Jesus has called to you—walk with me and be blameless before God, walk with me and learn my way, walk with me in trust and I will bear you up in all things, for God is glorified in this way.
May your day be grace-filled ~ Pr. Dave Brooks