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Lives that make a difference - Unsung heroes of the ChurchExamples from the Church in RomeRomans 1: 7-17Romans 16
Being connected to Paul didn’t guarantee an easy life ….. • Christians in Thessalonica dragged into court charged with: • “Paul and Silas have turned the rest of the world upside down, and now they are here disturbing our city“ (Acts 17:6) • “…..They are all defiling Caesar’s decree, saying that there is another King, one called Jesus” (v.7) • The church founded on roots of absolute commitment and sacrifice • Our identification with this is distant at best, but it has value …… inspiration & humility before God with the witnesses of history and the present day
Letter to the Romans …… • Written from Corinth after 3 missionary journeys and more that 10 years of ministry (around AD 55-57) • Comprehensive - Essentials of the Gospel taught by Paul in the many churches of his journeys • Reflected the growing network of contacts & servants in the church personally known to him • Looked forward to the culmination of his ministry …. To visit there (Rom 15:23 – 33) on way to Spain!
How did he get there? • He swam part of the way! (Shipwrecked and beached in Malta in AD 59) • Result of being arrested and put on trial and being plotted against by the religious leaders in Jerusalem • Was sent to Rome by the Provincial Governor as a prisoner after appealing to Caesar to save his skin • He eventually lived and taught in Rome in a house under guard for 2 years • Apparently died there in the persecutions under Nero
Importance of the people in Chapter 16 • Essential network of people who were the church and its leaders • When Paul talks about gifts and serving in Rom. 12, he had these people in mind • A mix of people - full-time church, professionals, business people and artisans, all active in church leadership • Paul himself at times a tent maker in the market place as well as a minister of the gospel
Who were they & how were they a body? • Priscilla & Aquila, fellow business associates, hosts & teachers – Movers & shakers, examples of boldness & sacrifice • Other leaders (men and women) of households and house groups • Phoebe – who carried the letter – a prominent lady • A “First convert” ….. Bearer of new life and “first fruit” • People who have been tested – respect and example
Fellow Jews, Greeks & travellers – natural friendships • Fellow prison inmates! – co-sufferers • Hard-working men & women – co labourers • Mothers with impact beyond their own families • Servants in the household of Caesar (Phil 4:22)
Our application & response • All members in the body of Christ but play different roles • Despite a 2,000 year bridge, how well we can recognize these types amongst us • Equip and support one another to create strong pillars and channels of ministry • Ask ourselves how it looks for us, as individuals, to be a key part of the Gospel … • Our focus Jesus Christ - making him known, living to fulfil the good news that the Kingdom of God is amongst us
Our roots as a church: • Value study, learning & teaching, responsibility for the future of church and Gospel through the Spirit’s work amongst us Let us • value the ability we have to test our own faith as individuals and church, and to reach out to the world • celebrate our rich cultural diversity here in UC • be prepared for sacrifice, risk and commitment for the Gospel • use our homes and possessions as resources for the fellowship • hold in balance family life and vocations, while reaching the world for Christ