Romans 16: What the Gospel Can Do
March 25, 2023
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
This long list of greetings at the end of the Book of Romans can seem somewhat random and unimportant, and we wonder why it is recorded for us to read. But not only does it tell us that Paul (despite what his detractors have said down through the centuries) was a person with many friends, it also sets an example for us in terms of community.
First, acknowledging what people have done publicly is important. It gives a sense of recognition and confirmation that someone has served well. We sometimes shy away from congratulating people in front of others. But Paul here sets an example of encouraging those with whom he has worked by publicly affirming them.
Second, working together as a team is important. Paul was no lone ranger. He worked with others and appreciated their contribution. We need to be those who work with others for the mutual goal of the kingdom.
Third, some way of greeting each other as fellow Christians is also important. The “holy kiss” is a cultural matter, and there is no need for people in Western churches to replicate it! But neither do we want to avoid greeting each other in church. A handshake and a smiling look in the eye can go a long way to helping someone feel like they have come to a place where they can connect and be at home.
But then also, fourth, Paul does not welcome everyone! There are those that he warns the Roman Christians against—those who cause divisions and put obstacles in people’s way. While we should be welcoming and including, that does not mean that we should welcome and include heresy and false teaching. No, that should not be welcomed!
Fifth, through it all, and as a capstone to it all, is the desire that God be glorified. That too is to be our desire, our prayer, and our greatest ambition:
“to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ!”
Out of such gospel God-centeredness comes a vibrant community, orientated around sound doctrine, and welcoming and loving towards each other. What a vision of what the gospel can do!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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