Summary: If we try to make a difference alone without teaming up with other followers of Jesus, our impact will be small. But if we learn to resolve our differences and work together, I believe we will accomplish way more than all of us could do separately. How ca
Going the Distance with God
-Paul’s closing words give us several keys to going the distance as followers together of Jesus. There is certainly individual application, but Paul’s words were for the church at Rome as a whole, not only to the independent individual Christians in Rome. What’s the difference? The difference is how far we go and how much of an impact we want to have in our community. If we try to do it alone without teaming up with other followers of Jesus, our impact will be small. But if we learn to resolve our differences and work together, I believe we will accomplish way more than all of us could do separately. How can we as a church go the distance with God?
1. Keep Your Christian Friendships alive and thriving
Romans 16:1-16; 21-23 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church in Cenchrea. 2 I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been a great help to many people, including me. 3 Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus. 4 They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. 5 Greet also the church that meets at their house. Greet my dear friend Epenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia. 6 Greet Mary, who worked very hard for you. 7 Greet Andronicus and Junias, my relatives who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was. 8 Greet Ampliatus, whom I love in the Lord. 9 Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my dear friend Stachys. 10 Greet Apelles, tested and approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the household of Aristobulus. 11 Greet Herodion, my relative. Greet those in the household of Narcissus who are in the Lord. 12 Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, those women who work hard in the Lord. Greet my dear friend Persis, another woman who has worked very hard in the Lord. 13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too. 14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the brothers with them. 15 Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas and all the saints with them. 16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ send greetings.
21 Timothy, my fellow worker, sends his greetings to you, as do Lucius, Jason and Sosipater, my relatives. 22 I, Tertius, who wrote down this letter, greet you in the Lord. 23 Gaius, whose hospitality I and the whole church here enjoy, sends you his greetings. Erastus, who is the city's director of public works, and our brother Quartus send you their greetings.
-Christian relationships can and should be a tremendous source of encouragement and strength! When we connect our lives with fellow believers we are reminded that we are not alone! We are in this thing together! Together we will make it as we learn to work well together and overlook each other’s faults. Too often we want to highlight the faults of others and conceal our own. I’m not saying that we should never confront one another; Paul sure did! I’m talking about a team approach where we learn to recognize and call out the best in each person. Sometimes all people need is an opportunity to make a difference. They need to hear encouragement from those around them to use their gifts, to try something new and see what God will do through them.
-Most people check out when they come to Romans 16 because it looks like a list of people we don’t really know. Certainly there is some historical value in these names, as they attest to the validity of the book of Romans, showing that it really was written to real live people living in Rome in the first century. But the greatest value I can see is the sense of unity and love that existed between these people and Paul. Even though he had not yet visited Rome, he was writing to people he had friendships with, some of them being relatives of his.
-As I was studying I got to thinking, “What would a letter to the Church in Elgin look like? What if Jesus wrote a letter to the church that meets in Elgin in various locations? Let’s skip down to the part where he might address the church that meets in the old skating rink – Christian Life Center. Maybe it would sound something like this: