Summary: How we share our lives
Romans 15-16 Wrestling Together
Join me this morning in turning to the book of Romans, chapter 15. Today we are going to finish up the book of Romans. We have spent the last few months going through this book together, and we have seen some wonderful truths; truths that when we understand them will change our lives. And today, we want to look at Paul’s closing ideas.
When I was a boy growing up, I watched a lot of TV. And one show I watched a lot on Saturday afternoon was WWF - Professional Wrestling. Now I know that over the years that competition has gone from a sport to a choreographed theatrical presentation. But as a boy, my favorite part of wrestling was the “tag team” competition. My personal favorite was Chief Jay Strongbow - a native American indian, and his partner_____.
Now in WWF, there were always the “good” guys and the “bad” guys. And normally the bad guys would gang up on one of the good guys, stomping on him, pinning him down, but he would reach out his hand and his partner would jump in the ring to give him help. When it was Chief Jay Strongbow, he would jump in, start running from side to side, and come flying down on top of both bad guys. And you couldn’t help but cheer for the good guys who wrestled together.
Now if you’ve never realized this before, Paul was quite the sports fan. He talks in several places about sports. If Paul had a TV, you might think he’d be watching the Billy Graham special, but I think he would have had ESPN on. He talks about wrestling, foot races, boxing, olympic competition, spectators in the stands. He was a regular sports fan. And here in the close of Romans 15, Paul gives us this very idea we have started out with: we are to be tag-team wrestlers! We wrestle together! Look at 15:30 - I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. Those words “join me in my struggle” literally are the words “wrestle together with me.” Paul is calling the Christians at Rome, whom he has never met, to join him in his struggle.
And that is the key idea we want to look at today. What does it mean for us to wrestle together, to have a partnership in ministry? Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes 4 - Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no-one to help him up!
There are many people who live their lives like Rambo- coming into battle all alone. Trying to do everything themselves, and then going off alone and depressed, never heard of until the next battle. But God’s desire for us was to share a partnership in ministry. Remember Jesus himself, who is God, able to do everything, chose to share his life and ministry with 12 others. Jesus sent his disciples out 2 by 2, sharing ministry. Paul, as he traveled on his journeys in sharing the gospel, also went with others who were partners with him in ministry. Barnabas, Silas, Timothy, Luke, Demas. Ministry is best accomplished as a joint effort, as a partnership.
I have shared the statistic with you before: it takes an average of 7.3 contacts with different Christians before an unbeliever will choose to follow Christ. Some people accept Christ the first time they hear the gospel. Others resist for years. But the average is 7.3 different contacts. If I have someone I am trying to witness to, it takes an average of having 6-7 other Christians come into their life as well to share the gospel.
Paul has never been to the church at Rome, but he tells them that they have a very real partnership in his efforts in sharing the gospel. Let’s see what he has to say here in these chapters. Read 15:7-9
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs so that the Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy. -- jumping down to vese 13:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another. I have written to you quite boldly on some points, as if to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God.