I am sure that you see and even experience the crazy pace of our lives. I have noticed that our lives as Americans keep getting busier all the time. The challenge of our busy lives is that every time we add something new then something else gets pushed aside. Unfortunately, most of us never intentionally choose what gets bumped, it just happens. Activities could be bumped because of scheduling conflicts, the fact that we are worn out from being on the go, or any other reason. There is a saying, “That which is best is often sacrificed on the altar of that which is good…” It means that we allow lesser priorities to bump the more important priorities in our lives!
We completed our series on Romans this past Sunday. I was impressed with the importance of Christian community for the follower of Jesus. The last portion of Romans is Paul acknowledging his friends and acquaintances in the Roman church. My message last Sunday was “Worship through Community.” I was reminded of the value of investing in relationships in our faith community.
I think if we are honest with ourselves, when we become pressed; it is often our time connecting with other believers that gets bumped. I hear the excuses all the time as a pastor. It seems folks need to clear their consciences. So, I hear the reasons why they missed a Sunday or failed to attend an event. Now, some of the reasons are legit. But what grieves my heart is that what a person gains in a few hours of extra time they lose in building community. Paul’s list of accommodation in Romans reminds me of his personal investment to spend time in worship, serving and fellowshipping with other believers.
The section begins with a commendation for Phoebe. It is obvious that Phoebe had made a commitment to connecting with other followers. How do I know? Well to start off with she was a deacon in her local church, she was mentioned because it is likely she is the one delivering the Paul’s letter and she was known for her generosity towards others and she had even ministered to the apostle Paul! Next Paul mentions Prisca and Aquila whom were involved with Paul’s ministry in Corinth and then wound up moving to Ephesus where they mentored Apollos and here we find then back in Rome. Beyond what is mentioned above, they risked their lives for Paul, ministered in a number of churches and were currently hosting a house church!
I could go on with the others listed. What I want to point out is that all these people made a choice to make investing in the community of faith a priority. The result was they were used by God and others were changed. I know that it also changed them too. There are those that are unknown except for the mention of their name. Yet each, whether in formal ministry of just faithfully serving, realized the power of community. It was because of their and Paul’s investment that he could write these words of commendation. I would encourage you to read Romans 16 with this thought in mind. I think you will be encouraged to be faithful with the ministry that the Lord has given you.
It is when we connect with what Jesus is doing that we are empowered and so are others.
-Pastor Joe Parkinson