Summary: God has a mission for his church, but every believer also has a mission that God wants them to fulfill.
Grace And God’s Mission
Have you ever considered what God’s mission is for you? Over the course of a lifetime, he may have many missions for you.
Paul’s Longing To Visit Rome. (v. 10)
Paul’s longing to visit Rome (and then Spain) was so intense that he prayed for God to give him the opportunity. Some of the saints in Rome were dear to Paul, such as Priscilla and Aquilla, but he also loved those he did not know and had never met. Little did Paul know that he would indeed get to Rome but not in the manner he may have anticipated. His visit to Rome was prefaced by arrest in Jerusalem, a slap in the face, shipwreck and being bitten by a poisonous snake.
This serves to remind us of the biblical truth that God’s ways are higher than ours and often radically different. (Isaiah 55:8) Have you ever felt God leading you in a particular direction and you obeyed, but things did not materialize in the shape or form you expected or desired? We must learn to trust the answers God gives as well as the directions he moves us in, regardless of whether they make sense or are according to the manner we would have chosen. Obey and leave the consequences to him. We must remember that God is in the future we have not experienced yet. He is not taking you somewhere he has not already been. God sees the eternal now.
Paul certainly wanted to arrive safely, and he did. God is eager to answer our prayers-and will, but we must always learn to wait on and abide by his timing and be open to changing our views as he instructs. The sincerity of Paul’s statement is revealed in his calling on God to witness his continual mention of them in his prayers. By reading his writings, we can conclude that Paul was a man who believed in the efficacy of prayer. Prayer is a sacred privilege as well as an obligation. Like a protracted drought, neglecting prayer retards our involvement in the progress of God’s kingdom growth.
The Reason For Paul’s Visit (11-13)
There was a rhyme for Paul’s reasoning. He wanted to share a spiritual blessing with them that would enable them to grow strong in the Lord. Paul wanted to encourage them in their spiritual journey and also to be encouraged by their spiritual progress. They would be a blessing to each other.
The Bible reminds us not to neglect the gathering together of the saints. (Hebrews 10:25)
Coming to church should be more than rote tradition or routine habit-something you do because that is what you grew up doing and were taught was the right thing to do. Paul knew that visiting them would bring mutual spiritual nourishment. Paul had such a love for Christ that he wanted to bring the graces of life in God’s Spirit into fuller bloom for other believers.
Whatever the gift might have been, it would strengthen the believers in Rome. But Paul does not place himself on a pedestal above them. He tactfully explains that his visit would not be a one-sided thing. He and they would benefit spiritually from the visit.
Paul also wanted to work among them and realize some fruit. Paul may have had in mind an increased number of converts to Christ or either that the believers would grow in the grace and knowledge of God. Both considerations are probably in mind.
Life in the body is vitally important and should accomplish both of these results. Since Jesus gave his life for the church, there must be some great importance in its work. The work is two-fold: we expand his kingdom by leading others to know Christ as their Savior, but we also disciple or teach those who are already a part of the flock. While a person does not have to be a church member to be a Christian, a person who has truly accepted Christ will want to be a part of that exciting work. No churches are perfect; there are problems in every one, but we remember that we are doing God’s work, and when we have a desire to do it his way and in his timing, our fellowships will be sweeter and more unified.
Paul wants them to know that he had often planned to visit them but had been prevented on many occasions. While we do not know for certain what the hindrance was, the probability is that the obstacle was simply the work he was doing elsewhere. On at least one other occasion, Satan had hindered Paul. (I Thessalonians 2:17-20)
By the end of his third missionary journey, he had traveled through Syria, Galatia, Asia, Macedonia and Achaia. He had gone to these places at the guidance of God’s Spirit, so his failure to make it to Rome was because God had not led him there yet. God’s timetable is most often different from ours, but our life goal should be like Paul and even Jesus himself-do what we do and go where we go under the guidance of God’s Spirit. We will never go wrong when that is our aim.