Romans 1:8-17

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed throughout the world. For God, whom I serve with my spirit by announcing the gospel of his Son, is my witness that without ceasing I remember you always in my prayers, asking that by God’s will I may somehow at last succeed in coming to you. For I am longing to see you so that I may share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— or rather so that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.

I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as I have among the rest of the Gentiles. I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish —hence my eagerness to proclaim the gospel to you also who are in Rome.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “The one who is righteous will live by faith.” Romans 1:8-17

Welcome to November – and month that ends, and with today’s words from Romans, begins – with thanksgiving. Paul begins his letter by thanking the Romans for their faith, which encourages him in his own. All of this is rooted in the gospel. In the good news that, in Jesus, God is bringing salvation, wholeness, healing, to all people who become willing to trust him.

This message of God’s inclusive love holds the power to make right so many things that are wrong in our world today. Faith in Jesus has moved Paul from the tribalism he grew up with to a new place where he can finally see that God ignores the boundaries that humans set up, “to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish,” are expressions of this reach. He says the same thing in other ways in other letters but he is always making the same point. Everyone means everyone.

There will always be a tension between individual agency and responsibility and communal agency and responsibility. What in life is about me and what in life is about us and how are we going to figure this out? This is part of the impasse between political groups who view life so differently. Paul holds this tension together with the reminder to the Romans that we are all in this together. We need each other. We do better together.

Paul quotes from Habakkuk 2:4, “The one who is righteous will live by faith.” In this he holds together the revelation from God that is the Hebrew scriptures and the message of Jesus which has become the hope of the world. To read that chapter is to see again that the opposite of living by faith for Habakkuk is living by pride, arrogance, wealth, and domination. Yes, we have problems with all four and faith in Jesus turns us around.

I read these words from Paul this morning and I wish I was that kind of pastor who writes spiritually flowing and flowery words to his people. I’m not. Never will be. But I am grateful for Paul’s words which continue to bring encouragement and instruction to us as they did first to the church in Rome. We are all in this together. We do need each other. Christianity is a team sport. And God has made room for us all. Trust that.

Let us pray: Thank you, good and gracious God, that you have come out of hiding in Jesus and that you use people like Paul to bring Jesus into our lives. Thank you for the power of faith, the power to help us do what we cannot do on our own. May that power lead us into lives that are happy, joyous, and free. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


One Response to “Romans 1:8-17”

  1. Mel Werner Says:

    Dear Pastor Kerry,
    Don’t sell yourself short. Your words may not be flowery, but they are spiritual and pertinent for the world we live in. Your devotions have often given me an alternate and more understandable way to look at God’s word. Thank you for your dedication to this blog and your service to God!

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