November 9, 2021 - Romans 15:7- 13
Entering a new building for the first time can be an intimidating moment for a lot of people. The unfamiliar can cause anxiety in some to the point they will not enter the building or attend the event. This fear can be alleviated by a friend or someone who comes alongside to walk or assist the newcomer.
Church or religious events in New Testament times were often situations where many people were uncomfortable attending. Paul was aware that many people misunderstood the teachings of Christianity as it presented strange and unusual ideas to the Gentile mindset. The confusion of a plurality of gods being replaced by the singleness of Christ as Savior was unsettling. As well, the refusal of Christians to revere Caesar as god caused rejection and persecution. Finally, the skepticism of Gentiles being accepted into this new faith movement which was Jewish in origin was stressful for both Jew and Gentile.
Paul encourages the believers to receive one another and assist the Gentiles to know that God had planned for their acceptance long before in the Jewish writings of the Old Testament. Paul quotes from the historical, law, poetic and prophetic books to demonstrate that God’s plan included Gentile people from the beginning (vv.10-12). His conclusion was to ensure his readers of their acceptance by God and by believing in Christ they would have joy and peace.
There are many who misunderstand Christianity today, just as in the first century. Like Paul, we can reduce the stress of people visiting a church service, by assisting them through the first visit. Arranging to meet friends outside or at the doorway, assisting to find classrooms, and sitting with them, all can go a long way in opening their understanding of Christ’s love for them. Being attentive to their lack of knowledge of finding scripture passages or knowing the rituals of the church service can also reduce tensions. Like Paul, may we be sensitive and assist one another so that others can see and feel Christ through our actions and words!