Earlier this year, we took a journey together through the Old Testament book of Isaiah. Paul, as a learned rabbi and the author of the letter to the church at Rome, quoted regularly from the Prophet. So, let’s take the next few weeks together to look at the New Testament book of Romans.
Right off the top, we see that Paul calls himself a “devoted slave on assignment.” (Romans 1:1, MSG). And it immediately causes me to ask myself two questions: 1) Am I a devoted slave? and 2) What is my assignment? We could certainly drop anchor before the ship even leaves the harbor to ponder these two thoughts.
It’s been said that we are all a slave to something or someone. That can be a good thing, right? If we are bound by healthy habits our assignment might be exercising and eating well-balanced meals. On the other hand, if we are controlled by a TV craving, we might binge-watch our favorite situation comedy until the wee hours of the morning, thus negatively altering our work performance the next day.
Jesus is worth following is because He chose us to give us His grace and the eternal life that comes with it.
What if, like Paul, our days were structured around a life disciplined by Jesus? What if we awoke each morning with the inclination on our lips and heart to prioritize God’s to-do list over our own?
Why would Paul do this? Why would we?
“Through him, we received both the generous gift of his life and the urgent task of passing it on to others who receive it by entering into obedient trust in Jesus.” (Romans 1:5, MSG).
Paul assures us that the only reason Jesus is worth following is because He chose us to give us His grace and the eternal life that comes with it. He has chosen us! He has given us grace! He has presented us with life! As we fully embrace this blessing and calling, might it be relatively easy to accomplish the assignment of telling others about Him? What if we shared this truth with our friends and family: “You are who you are through this gift and call of Jesus Christ!” (Romans 1:6, MSG).
What a great promise to view through the lens of God’s affection for everyone! You are who you are, I am who I am, through the gift of grace — God’s abundant and unconditional love.
It’s no wonder we see the passion light up Paul’s face as he exclaims:
“And that’s why I can’t wait to get to you in Rome, preaching this wonderful good news of God. It’s news I’m most proud to proclaim, this extraordinary Message of God’s powerful plan to rescue everyone who trusts him, starting with Jews and then right on to everyone else! God’s way of putting people right shows up in the acts of faith, confirming what Scripture has said all along: “The person in right standing before God by trusting him really lives.”” (Romans 1:15-17, MSG).
This Good News is extraordinary! Isn’t it worth sharing? Isn’t it worth structuring our days around and committing our lives to? While our salvation is not earned by completing our God-given assignments, Paul writes to another church: “God planned for us to do good things and to live as he has always wanted us to live. That’s why he sent Christ to make us what we are.” (Ephesians 2:10, CEV).
May God fill you with His strength and joy and grace today as you seek to serve Him by accomplishing the assignments He has for you.
(c) 2020. Rich Ronald.