In one of the very first verses in Paul’s letter to the Romans, he makes, what I think, is a very profound statement, or even revelation, about the faith of the believers there. Note what Paul says…
“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world.” Romans 1:8
One of the first questions that came to my mind after reading and contemplating this verse was, “Is Paul talking about the basis for their faith, i.e. their belief in Jesus Christ, or is he talking about the manner in which they go about expressing their belief in Jesus Christ, i.e. living by faith?”
My ultimate conclusion?
Because it is almost impossible to speak of someones faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior without also talking about how they live out this very belief in Jesus as Lord and Savior.
That, if you know me well enough, or if you have been following this blog for any length of time, caused nothing but further questions for me. I am a “question asking kind of teacher/preacher.” I want people to think biblical matters through. I want them to be able to communicate why they believe what they believe. I want people to slow down when they read the Bible and ask God questions about the passages they read. I want them to “wrestle” with the truth.
The additional questions that came to mind include:
1. What exactly did Paul mean by the term, “proclaimed”?
2. When Paul used the term “world”, just what was he describing or saying to the people?
Well, all this caused me to do a little word study. When Paul said, “proclaimed”, he meant that their faith was being declared, preached, taught, and spoken of. When Paul used the term “world”, he was saying among other things, the world, as it was known then, and its inhabitants.
We must understand the world as Paul and others knew it at this time was significantly less than we know now. However, the astounding fact of the matter is that regardless of the known size of the world at that time, their faith was being spoken of to the four corners of that known world. Try for a moment to picture that. Picture it without the conveniences of today, i.e. internet, television, mail, telephones,etc. This “proclaiming” of their faith was done by word of mouth, one on one, through men and women whose only modes of transportation included a horse at best, but most likely through their legs which carried them from place to place.
Even if their known world at that time was no bigger than say, the United States. That is a huge undertaking. Yet it was happening.
Why or maybe even how, we ask?
I believe in part, it had something to do with the people’s passion and sense of urgency about the message of the Gospel.
Then, I naturally of course, began to think about “my known world”. The community, city and state in which I live.
You know what I discovered? I discovered that if I drove just a few short miles to the next town over, about five miles, no one is proclaiming or teaching about the faith the people in my town have. In other words, if I drove to the next town, I would be hard pressed to find someone who was teaching or preaching, “Friends, I want you to hear about the faith of the people who live in __________.!” If honest, we could all probably use this very same statement in regards to the place in which we live.
The reason this was happening in Paul’s day had a great deal to do with the excitement the people possessed regarding the Gospel message. They had finally seen truth and wanted all others to hear of the source of this truth.
After all this, I was forced to ask myself a question for a change.
My question to self was, “Why do people not talk about the faith found in my town?”
This next realization really cuts to the bone. I don’t like it. It makes me feel very uncomfortable. It puts me on the hot seat.
The likely reason people in surrounding towns are not hearing about the faith of the people in my town, could very well be because I am not talking about the faith of the people in “my town.”
So…there you have it. It’s out. I have been exposed for the world to see. According to Paul’s account, I am not doing such a good job of telling others about this faith I have and trust.
But yet, it goes deeper.
If towns surrounding the town in which you live are not talking about your towns faith, could it be that neither are you?
It’s gut check time. It’s time to step up to the plate. It’s time to face the fastball of the Gospel truth. Are you going to swing and take the Gospel deep into center field or are you simply going to stand at the plate, never taking a swing, mesmerized only by the speed at which opportunities come your way?
I could be the best hitter on the team. I could have the highest batting average in the league. I could be the one that has been called upon in crunch times in the past to deliver that winning run.
But if I approach the plate, knock the dirt off my shoes and even take a few warm up swings, yet never go aggressively after the pitch…I will eventually hear, “Strike three, you’re outta here!”
Wouldn’t it be a sad day to look back on, knowing you had all the skill, talent, training and ability a person could ask for, yet did nothing with it? In the case just mentioned, yes, they’ll be talking about you. But instead of the talk being about what your faith has done, the talk will be centered on what your faith could have done.
I don’t want to be a “could have done”.
I want to be a person whose faith is known across the world in which I live.
How about you?