But I have written very boldly to you on some points so as to remind you again, because of the grace that was given me from God, to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, ministering as a priest the gospel of God, so that my offering of the Gentiles may become acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.Romans 15:15-16
You would think that a church that was theologically knowledgeable, able to instruct and counsel one another in the deep problems of life, and filled with a spirit of goodness and compassion, would hardly need anything more said to them. Yet it is to that kind of church that Paul addressed his letter to the Romans. He says they needed three other things.
First, they needed a bold reminder of the truth. I saw a man the other day with a string around his finger. The string was to remind him of something. The fact that we so easily forget things is somehow built into our humanity and I think one of the greatest proofs of the fall of man is that we have such a hard time remembering what we want to remember, yet we so easily remember what we want to forget! We even need to be reminded again and again of these great themes of the gospel. That is why in, Chapter 12, Paul says,
You need your mind renewed by the Holy Spirit, (Romans 12:2). That is one reason to gather every Sunday: We need to have our minds renewed. We need to be called back to a vision of reality. Living out in the world, as many of you are, working every day among non-Christians, it is so easy to be sucked into the attitudes of the world around. It is so easy to get the idea that life is designed to be a pleasant picnic, that we can work toward the day when we can retire and enjoy ourselves. I find that attitude prevalent among people everywhere, but that is not what the Bible says. The Bible says we are in the midst of a battle, a battle to the death, against a keen and crafty foe. He wants to discourage us and defeat us, and to make us feel angry and hostile. He knows how to do it, and he never lets up. This life is not designed to be a time of relaxing. There are times when we need recreation and vacations, when we can slow down a bit. But you never see Paul talking about quitting the battle. You cannot quit, as long as life is there. So Paul tells us that we need to be reminded, day by day and week by week, that we are in a battle and that we have a crafty foe.
The second thing the apostle said the Christians at Rome needed was a priestly ministry. He told them,
You not only need to be reminded of the truth, but you need an example to follow. You need somebody you can see doing this kind of thing. That is what pastors have the privilege of doing. They are called of God, not only to be an example of leadership, but also to be like a priest working in the temple, to awaken among people a sense of worship, a sense of the greatness of God
The third thing they needed is that,
the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Every congregation needs this. We need to labor, to pray, to work, to counsel, to evangelize. But all of the activity of the Christian life is of no avail if it is not sanctified by the Holy Spirit, if it does not have in it that touch of God, that unction from on high, that divine wind blowing upon the dead bones and making them come to life. Paul is reminding them here of the ministry of prayer, and the need to remember that God himself must touch something — otherwise it is dead and useless. So Paul calls this church at Rome back to this tremendous reality. They had so much, but they needed this as well.
Lord, continue to remind me of my need for these three things. I continue to need a bold reminder of the truth, a priestly example and the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. Thank you that you are more than willing to provide these things.
Has the daily exposure to worldly affairs and ideas diverted our minds from our heritage of Truth and Love? Have we settled into complacency when that knowledge and goodness is so urgently needed?