Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 119:73-80; 145, Jeremiah 1:11-19, Romans 1:1-15, John 4:27-42
Paul had been evangelizing for almost twenty years before he set his sights on Rome. Several Christian communities were established there, and he intended to visit with them on his way to Spain. We don’t know for certain whether he ever made it to Spain, but the epistle he wrote to the church in Rome is considered by many to be his masterwork. More than a mere introduction, it builds a rich and complex theology of salvation through Christ. The early church was not in agreement on all things, and Paul made sure they understood his stance in advance of his arrival.
But Paul knew he didn’t know everything. Near the beginning of the epistle he writes:
For I am longing to see you so that I may share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen you — or rather so that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.
When we share the gospel, we receive as well as give. Left to our own devices, we can make only so much spiritual progress. Even with the best intentions and discipline, our own biases eventually overtake us. Like a self-taught musician or artist, we won’t know what we don’t know. As part of a Christian community, we can challenge and be challenged, grow and foster growth. Reaching across Christian communities only multiplies that growth.
Not everything we have to learn will necessarily come from other Christians. When we share our stories with non-Christians, we learn something from their responses, and also from our reactions to those responses. If someone reacts unexpectedly, negatively, or even violently to our efforts, our commitment to sharing the gospel may be revealed. Do we try to understand why? Do we insist on our own way? Do we examine our approach and motives?
The gospel is not a solitary endeavor. Sharing it is not the same as delivering a monologue about it. Letting it unfold between us and someone else is like laying out a dance floor where we move together under the light of Christ to the rhythm of the Spirit.
Comfort: You don’t have to know everything.
Challenge: Don’t be afraid to talk about the gospel with people who differ in good faith.
Prayer: Loving God, let me find the right words and steps to share the Gospel. Amen.
Discussion: Where do you find opportunities to grow your faith by sharing it?
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