This whole chapter in Romans talks about sin, but we’re just looking at the first 11 verses. There’s plenty of nuggets here for us to cherish. Since our theme is “Seeking the Kingdom of God,” we may be thinking that we’re looking for a place. Where is the kingdom of God exactly? For purposes of our reflections, it’s where Jesus rules as king. That should be in our lives here and now, just as well as our eternal home in heaven.
Our reading today talks about how the power of sin has been broken. That’s a good thing because our sin is what puts a wedge between us and God. Paul’s words are challenging to understand at first, aren’t they? Paul describes how our lives are changed because of what Jesus did for us. Jesus paid for our sins with his life.
I’ve always thought of this carol as a great lullaby. This is a song that you have to start on a higher note since it starts at its high point. (Do I sound like a musician!) I’m picturing the hand motions I’ve taught children over the years to help them remember the words to the song. I love how spending time with each of these Christmas carols has opened up the flood of memories!
Away in a manger, no crib for a bed, the little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head. The stars in the bright sky looked down where he lay, the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.
Paul concludes this letter to the Romans with a beautiful benediction. First, however, he calls out a special greeting to those believers already in Rome. If he hasn’t come to Rome yet, it seems hard to fathom how he already knows so many people there. Especially without social media! It’s hard to imagine what life was like. But Paul had already started building relationships with many people who now apparently have moved to Rome.
We are all missionaries when it comes to sharing the Gospel. Jesus has entrusted each of us to tell of his love and sacrifice. When we tell others, and they tell others, there is a ripple effect. We can’t let the ripple die out. We need to be encouraging each other at all times to keep the ripple moving.
Paul is looking forward to meeting the Christians in Rome, but he’s got some difficult tasks facing him before he can do so. He is sending a request for prayer in this passage. That’s a good reminder to us to be asking our own brothers and sisters in Christ to pray for us.
How many times have you told someone, “I’ll pray for you.” There is comfort in those words. Many times, that’s the best thing we can offer to do. God is a better problem solver than we could ever dream of being. I don’t know about you, but I so much more prefer to pray right there on the spot when someone shares a prayer request. I remember the first time someone did that with me. We were standing in the middle of a hotel lobby. Not the most opportune location, but once in prayer I didn’t really care. Sometimes timing or location doesn’t allow for that, but how affirming and calming the instant prayers can be.
We all want to have a purpose in life. I remember as a teenager sitting at the kitchen table as I often did after everyone had gone to bed. I had my pen and paper. I would write and write, journalling whatever came into my head. Years later I read through those late night scratches and see how I was wrestling with God wondering why he put me on this planet. Have you ever wondered that?
It seems like some people have it all figured out. It’s as if their life has a script or something. Mine hasn’t, and I continue to ask God to show me what his plan is for me. I feel like I have so much more to give. I just want to be clear like Paul on what my mission is. Paul told the Roman church his mission was to make sure the Gentiles who have not heard about Jesus hear about him. Paul’s job is to be a missionary to the Gentiles, to us.