Paul’s Letter to the Romans
A good toe-nail is not an unsuccessful attempt at a brain: and if it were conscious it would delight in being simply a good toe-nail.
– C. S. Lewis (1898 – 1963),
Disorder is more probable than order. Think of it as entropy. Attribute it to the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Whatever mental category you use, disorder is more probable than order and that principle applies to churches as well as physical substances.
Unity in the church is achieved by design. If we don’t think about what we are doing as a body, disorder will be more probable than order. If we are intentional about working together and putting others before ourselves, unity will be the result.
This is a letter full of joy. The words “joy” or “rejoice” appear in some form 16 times in 14 verses. Unlike many of Paul’s letters, this one was not written to correct problems, but mainly as an expression of love and thanks to a church that partnered with him in the spread of the gospel.
Complete dependence is a humbling concept – but humility, let’s face it, is a good thing. I’d like to say there are some things I can handle, but readily admit that I need the Lord for the biggies. Christ, however, sees it differently:
I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5 (NKJV)
If I want my life to be worth something in light of eternity, I need to get this straight. Without Him I can do nothing.
On the other hand, by abiding in Him I tap into the source of the richest blessings. Whatever Christ means by “much fruit” it has to be good. At the end of the day, that’s what I want: fruit that came from my life that He has produced. I can also think of it like this:
What would my life look like if I got out of the way
and let Christ live my life for me?
How would He handle my responsiblities and relationships? No question He would handle them properly. He would do a way better job with them than I have. So be it. Let’s embrace reality and give the Lord full authority to do whatever He wants.
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20 (NKJV)
Those silly apostles. In Luke 22 we see Jesus about to be betrayed, arrested and crucified – approaching the climax of His mission and ministry here on earth. Sadly, His closest followers seem oblivious. They are so self-centered they get into something of a fight.
“I’m a better Christ-follower than you, Peter, ” says one.
“You are not,” the burly fisherman strikes back.
“Wait a minute! I’m the disciple Jesus really loves,” says John, the beloved disciple.
“He’s just trying to make you feel good because you’re such an idiot.”
And so Jesus, with endless patience, interrupts. He takes a conversation about greatness and makes it a lesson about our willingness to serve others. It’s a lesson we need every bit as much as they did:
Now there was also a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest. And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves. – Luke 22:24-27 (NKJV)