Saturday

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you” (v. 20)

Romans 16:3-27 Saturday 5 May 2018

Psalm: Psalm 54


Background

The opening of this passage from Romans, with its long list of members of the Christian community, reminds us that Paul had a living relationship with the church that he had founded. We know very little about who these people are, but we can sense the love and esteem which Paul feels for them. It may be that the church in Rome is made up of several groups, and so Paul invites them to greet one another with the kiss of peace. Maybe it was like those early Methodists in the 18th century where, having heard Wesley preach, people would gather again to remember the event. When such groups rose up it was probable, at first, that the only connection between them was the common experience of having been inspired by the preaching of John Wesley.

The early Christians were part of a small and exhilarating movement, living in God’s world, connected in Christ, challenged and changed on a daily basis. They are part of a family whose love and faith and hope would win the day. Paul wants the Church to grow up and learn how to understand, in love and good sense, that there is an ever-present danger of false teaching. There is also the problem of some imagining that the teaching is false when it is not. Some people in the community seem to be intent on causing dissension and division. Paul sees that the Church is caught in the crossfire – but remaining connected in Christ, as branches to the vine, will give them a chance of survival. Charles Wesley’s hymn, Soldiers of Christ, arise, might be expressing too much martial language for modern taste, but the final verse does challenge us to keep on, in our connectedness to Christ, in our following in his ways, in our life in the Spirit. And so, with Paul, we can proclaim the closing doxology and ascribe glory to the only wise God, through Jesus the Messiah. For it is our connectedness to this Jesus which enables our bearing of good fruit and our incorporation into the true and living vine.


To Ponder

  • How do you deal with conflict and dissension in our local churches?
  • How do you live alongside other Christians who genuinely hold contradictory convictions?
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