Scratch My Back and I'll Scratch Yours
Romans 1:8 Let me say first that I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith in him is being talked about all over the world. 9 God knows how often I pray for you. Day and night I bring you and your needs in prayer to God, whom I serve with all my heart by spreading the Good News about his Son.
10 One of the things I always pray for is the opportunity, God willing, to come at last to see you. 11 For I long to visit you so I can bring you some spiritual gift that will help you grow strong in the Lord. 12 When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.
So the first thing Paul writes in his letter to the church at Rome is thanks for the witness they are to their area, but also to the world. Who would have thought that a small group of people could have such an impact on their world. But they did!!! Where does that impact come from? It comes from the message they share, that through Christ there is forgiveness of sins and new life abundant and rich!! This falls directly into the words Jesus shared with His disciples in John 14:12 “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.13 You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.14 Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it! Those same words impacted everyone within earshot of the message presented by Jesus, but also a message that went from person to person, town to town, and grew into a worldwide movement of hope and life. We must never underestimate the power of the gospel message of Jesus Christ and keep it at the forefront of everything we say and do.
Now back to Paul and the church at Rome. Paul once again shares the importance of the community they have is because of God's good news and the message of Christ is at the core of that whole way of thinking. This core teaching and truth was the gas for Paul and so many other's mission vehicles and the constant encouragement they had for each other prompted even more intense sharing of that message. Paul was sharing how thankful he was for those believers who kept on serving and sharing no matter what!! Oh they didn't have Covid-19, but some were burned alive and used as lamps in the streets of Rome because of their faith in Christ. The Romans were in hot pursuit of Jesus' followers and wanted to snuff out this gospel fire!! The believers in Rome needed the encouragement from each other to continue sharing that message and every time they met together there was an apparent spirit of encouragement that fueled that fire in their hearts. Paul wanted to bring them a spiritual gift that would continue to encourage them as he was getting great encouragement from them also. Of course their main encouragement came from the Lord in their midst in the presence of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 18:20 comes more into focus when we meet together and I am sure was in their thoughts. Matthew 18:20 For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”
We all need encouragement. That is power that turns my crank. If you are around me very long you will pick up on that and realize that I do my best with encouragement and my worst with discouragement. When running track in high school I remember being put in the two mile run. The only problem with me being in that race was "I had never run two miles in my life and now I am in a race against other two milers who had trained for this distance. One of my coaches had figured out that words of encouragement would make me go beyond what I thought possible, so the other runners took off and me with them. After three laps I realized that I couldn't keep the pace and really started to doubt if I could even finish the race. That one coach had seen I was hurting and he positioned himself right by the lap line and as I went by I heard him say "C'mon Warren.You can do this. I believe in you!" All of my pain went away and I continued to keep pace with the pack and the next time around that same coach yelled out "See I told you!" I finished the two mile race that day a distant seventh, but I beat 10 other runners who really were two milers. Why? Someone believing in me helped me believe in myself. That coach didn't run one lap of that race with me physically, but mentally he ran every step and I knew it. Spiritually Jesus is telling each of us "Keep running. I know you can do it!"
When Jesus scratches our back we in turn scratch His by continuing to tell the message of His death, burial, and resurrection. So keep on sharing and He will keep on encouraging us, lap after lap, and the message will live on. During these Covid days don't let the fear of the disease, or the effect of the symptoms when you get it keep you from running. Keep on running!!! Keep on sharing the message of Jesus and keep on meeting with other believers for the encouragement only other believers can give.
The Pilgrimage continues.....