Romans 1:8-17 (NLT)
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.
13 I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, that I planned many times to visit you, but I was prevented until now. I want to work among you and see spiritual fruit, just as I have seen among other Gentiles. 14 For I have a great sense of obligation to people in both the civilized world and the rest of the world, to the educated and uneducated alike. 15 So I am eager to come to you in Rome, too, to preach the Good News. 16 For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile. 17 This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”
A Different Kingdom
Paul is full of thanksgiving as he writes this letter to the first Roman church. In the words of N.T. Wright, Paul is thanking the maker of heaven and earth that there is a community in Rome, right under Caesar’s nose, who give allegiance to Jesus as Lord and have been grasped by the vision of a different kingdom. Paul longed for the day that he could visit Rome, both to encourage and be encouraged. Paul wanted to assist in advancing the gospel among the Roman people by preaching the good news. Paul realized the gospel is not simply a personal possession, but a gift to be shared. Unlike the Roman empire (or any other national allegiance), the kingdom of God is for everyone. All who believe can align themselves with King Jesus; citizen and foreigner, civilized and uncivilized, male and female, young and old, rich and poor, etc. Paul has no shame or embarrassment in spreading this message, for he knows that it is the power of God to completely save, heal and deliver us.
List reasons Paul was not ashamed of the gospel. How might these reasons help you when you are tempted to be ashamed or embarrassed by your faith?
Like Paul, we get to participate in God’s ever-expanding story in people’s lives. Who in your life needs encouragement and prayer in order to grow strong in the Lord?