“First, I thank God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world.” Romans 1:8
“When in Rome….” I guess since I just finished the books of Acts and my Bible was laying open there the next page is Romans. Acts ended with Paul in chains in Rome so as long as that’s where my thoughts have been I thought, though I am no theologian and some believe it takes one to understand this book, why not see what he had to say to the people in the city where he was? So I think I’ll spend a few weeks seeing what surfaces for me as I read Paul’s letter to the believers in that great Italian city. (Yes, I know it was written from Corinth on Paul’s third missionary journey, Acts 20:1-3, in 57-58ad, before his actual visit to Rom, but humor me, I’m going to pretend that the book of Romans comes after the story of Acts not imbedded in it! )
My first ah-ha came in the first verse (I continue to be blessed by God as I offer Him time in His word each morning and He is faithful to give me something and it usually doesn’t take long!)—the book is about the gospel- “promised” from of old, “declared with power,” “received by grace and for apostleship.” The “good news” (aka “gospel”) has always been and is offered to me because of God’s love and goodness (aka “grace”), AND it will make a difference in my life because it comes with POWER and with the challenge to be a follower of Jesus (aka “discipleship/apostleship.)
This idea of making a difference in my life has been surfacing in many different ways lately as I believe God is taking me to a new understanding and appreciation of obedience AS A RESPONSE to all that He has done, is doing, and will continue to do in my life. A few days ago I wrote about “proving” that you are a follower of Jesus- I claim to be a Christian—prove it! I prove it by first trusting and believing that what God says He will do- love me, forgive me, cleanse me, and save me. He also says He will “equip me for every good work.” So I trust and then I respond, not to GET saved or loved or cleansed or forgiven, but BECAUSE I have all those things.
I don’t “earn” my salvation but I think I do “prove,” not to God but to those around me, that what I say, I do. My text for this morning says Paul is thankful that he hears “all over the world” of the faith of the believers in Rome. I don’t know what faith looks like except as it is demonstrated by the way I live, the things I do (or don’t do,) and the words I say. The whole world was reporting back that they had heard of the faith of the Romans. That inner conscious decision to trust and believe in the presence of minimal physical evidence (aka faith) cannot be visually seen, especially in other parts of the world when I am right here. BUT if that decision to trust plays out in my outward behavior then others, even around the world, could hear of the behaviors and be encouraged by my faith which led me to respond to life as I do. James says, “I will show you my faith by what I do!” (James 2:18). I like that—I have faith—prove it—and I prove it by what I do. It just makes sense to me. I’m not earning salvation but I certainly am responding to salvation. My witness IS to demonstrate that my faith in God is making a difference in my life. It also, as an added perk, resolves a LOT of confusion in my life!
So have a great day “proving” to others that Jesus really IS making a difference in your life,