The last section of Paul’s letter to the Romans (chapters 15 & 16) is intensely personal and strategic. We dare not skip over Paul’s “Oh yes, a few last words…!” He’s driving home a Unity message. I was struck that unity doesn’t come from internal analysis or from trying harder to orchestrate it, but from being IN MISSION together! Here are my conclusions from studying Paul’s example.
We need to Demonstrate Unity….
1. by welcoming one another as Christ has welcomed us (15:4-7)
2. by being people filled with His hope that overflows to the world (15:8-13)
3. by partnering together in the local and global mission of God. (15:14-29) Paul was Mission-driven! He was deeply concerned about the unity of Jew and Gentile believers – that God’s righteousness would be proclaimed and the Gospel would keep going out. Jesus is the Hope of the world – for all the nations. He wanted the churches he started to be Missional communities, not ingrown communities. The same goes for today! Our churches need to be beach-heads for extending the Kingdom; Mission Stations that impact our communities and replicate themselves in new places where the Good News has not penetrated!
4. finally, by honoring and encouraging one another when we speak about one another. (16:1-20; Hebrews 10:24-25) Don’t hold back those words of affirmation for what God is doing in and through your brother or sister!
The Roman church was undoubted like us in the fact that it needed to be ‘one church with many communities.’ Paul worked very hard to maintain and ‘preserve the unity’ that the Spirit created in that diverse setting. (Ephesians 4) He strongly warns against anyone who would be responsible for fostering division or diverting the mission.
I believe that our unity over the years has come from being Mission – centered. Let’s continue to Demonstrate Unity as we focus on going “Deeper in Christ…Further in Mission.”