The Church and Its Beauty

Our dream of having a thriving neighborhood church in every neighborhood is more important than ever. There are communities all around that are filled with sheep without a shepherd. The only hope of our world is Jesus Christ.

To see a thriving church in every neighborhood, we must rethink church. There are always new opportunities, new technologies, new mission fields, and new people to reach so the church must do its part to fulfill the Great Commission by reaching them.

In chapter 16, Paul wraps up his famous work to the church at Rome. As he weaved through the black, white, and grey issues of the Bible, we always see Paul’s love for people. This ought to be what informs the church as we rethink methods and practices to reach and disciple people.

Romans 5:5-8 God poured out and demonstrated His love for us.
Romans 8:28-39 Nothing can separate us from the love of God.

Paul considers a lack of love to be crucial because he values people above all else. As a result, it’s no surprise to see a long list of names at the end of the letter of people cherished by Paul.

Paul first addresses Phoebe and commends her so it’s likely that Paul chose Phoebe personally for the very important mission of delivering his letter.

Paul greets Priscilla and Aquilla whom he first met in Corinth after they fled their home in the capitol during the persecution of the Jews under Emperor Claudius. Paul owed much to this couple, and I’m convinced that they put themselves in harm’s way many times to serve him. If it weren’t for influential friends like Priscilla and Aquilla, things might have turned out differently. These are the kind of people a church needs.

In the following verses, Paul lists 20 more names of beloved, fellow workers, approved in Christ. Each name represents a special relationship Paul cherished.

Paul tells the believers to greet one another with a holy kiss because this kind of greeting is difficult to do with people who are at odds, gossiping about one another and who are treating one another badly. I’m down with shaking hands with anyone but I’m not just kissing any person on the cheek. I’d have a very hard time kissing the cheek of someone I’m at odds with.

3 FACTS ABOUT THE DIVERSITY OF THE CHURCH

1. The Church has beautiful oneness, not sameness
Paul’s friends included singles, married couples, widows, and widowers. They came from all over the empire with multiple backgrounds and traditions, but they all share one thing in common: salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. The church is a beautiful tapestry of the work of our amazing Creator.

2. The Church is held together by those who serve in the quiet
We know little of those mentioned in this list like Phoebe or Persis beyond the brief acknowledgments. I know many that have been instrumental in the work of God in the church.

3. The Church is characterized by its love
Paul uses words to demonstrate the value he holds for them rather than merely to tell of his feelings. Paul’s list of greetings reflects his vision for the Church. The Church should be no less diverse than the communities we serve. The Church must be filled with people who desire to work and serve without accolades.

Paul and his friends in Rome did not share a lukewarm love. The hardships and victories of ministry had bound their hearts together in a deep, abiding affection that neither time not distance could diminish.

4 PRACTICES YOU MUST APPLY NOW

1. Accept one another
You bring glory to God when you accept one another.

2. Start following the example of Jesus
Give and serve. That’s why He came, that’s what we should do.

3. Show value to others
Treat others the way you want to be treated.

4. Give your love freely
Love without deeds is not better than coffee grounds without water
Pastor Chris Williams
To learn more about Pastor Chris and his teaching, visit us on the web at fcfamily.org  and make sure you subscribe to receive these biweekly encouragements in your inbox.

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