Paul had never visited the church at Rome, but he really wanted to. As he wrote this epistle (letter) to be read to them, he was on the way to Jerusalem to deliver some money he had raised for the “mother church” there (v.25). His plan was to leave Jerusalem and head for Western Europe, Spain to be exact, and visit the Roman believers on the way (v.28). But sometimes our plans don’t work out the way we thought they would. Paul would end up in Rome, but as a prisoner awaiting trial before Caesar.
His desire to minister in Rome came from the calling he felt very keenly — the call to be “a minister of Christ to the Gentiles” (v.16-19). Paul felt that he was following the example of Christ in reaching out to the Gentiles (v.8-12). By “Gentiles” Paul meant the nations of the world, the lost who had never been told the gospel and had never heard the name of Jesus (v.21). That missionary-pioneer spirit ought to be the way we think, too. As long as there are nations and tribes and people groups who have never heard the name of Jesus, we ought to think and strategize and plan and pray and train and send and give and GO — until the whole world hears!
Churches that want to be effective in reaching the nations and sending out new generations of gospel witnesses must be united in that desire. They can’t be distracted by petty differences and selfish agendas. Paul’s prayer in verses 5-6 was that the church would be unified, living in “harmony with one another” (literally “of the same mind”). When that happens, the church is unstoppable. I want to be a part of something like that, don’t you? I think the late Adrian Rogers was right when he said, “Unity is the desire of the Savior and the dread of Satan.”
What are you doing to actively promote that kind of unity in your church?
What are you doing to shine the light of the gospel to the nations of the world?
Are you ready for God to use you to share His hope with someone today (v.13)?