Welcome to Day 1 of our "SOAP" study through Romans! Not quite sure what SOAP is or how to participate? Check out this post before you continue on.
Scripture: Romans 1:1-17
Observation: The apostle Paul opens his letter to the Romans, a group of people who lived in Rome. He calls himself a “slave of Christ” with a singular purpose: to spread the Good News of Christ Jesus, bringing glory to his name. After his introduction, he begins to encourage the Romans and shares how thankful he is for them. Finally, he ends with the message that will populate the next 16 chapters: “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.’” (v. 17)
Application: Let’s do a quick “official” survey: How many distractions are around you right now? I’m currently writing this while sitting in Panera Bread (so basic, I know) and I can count at least five – there’s my computer, my phone that’s pinging every few minutes, music playing, a couple chatting (loudly) a few seats behind me, and someone’s order pager going off with incessant vibrations. I’m also sitting by an entrance, and I never thought I had ADD but I somehow just HAVE to look up every time someone enters in. I want to focus but ah! Someone just used the ice machine! Someone has really loud high heels on – click, click, click – and I have to look and see if I like them! (I do; I need to get on Zappos.com and see if I can find them. Oh wait, no, I need to focus…) Someone’s order pager is going off! (Can you tell that one really bothers me?)
There are a lot of distractions around us every second of the day.
Paul didn’t have iPhones or MacBooks or order pagers or Panera Bread (sorry, man, You Pick Two is my jam), but I’d bet he had his fair share of distractions. However, you wouldn’t know it from his writings, would you?
Paul is focused. He doesn’t waste time telling us exactly what his focus is within the first verse of the book. He knows who he is – a slave of Christ – and he knows what his purpose is – to be an apostle sent out to preach the Good News. I envy Paul’s focus. But, what I envy even more is the complete joy he has while pursuing his singular purpose. He’s not complaining about being a slave. He’s not whining about his purpose. He’s filled with joy.
His words are so sweet. Look at verses 8 through 15. What do you notice? Here’s what I see: a man who knows his purpose and pursues it with passion. He tells the Romans that he prays for them, loves them, “longs” to see them, can’t wait to encourage them, is “eager” to visit them, and has a “great sense of obligation to people.”
Paul loves being a slave for Jesus.
If we’re followers of Jesus, we also have one singular purpose in life: to share the Good News. We may do it in a million different ways. Some of us may share it through written words, others through spoken words, others through deep relationships, others through counseling, others through acts of service. But, we all have one singular purpose: to tell people about Jesus and to do it with joy. Sometimes, in the midst of all the distractions, we sometimes forget that, don’t we?
If you’re like me, sometimes sharing the Good News can seem awkward or untimely or unnatural. What do I say? What do I do? What if people think I’m crazy? What if I mess up and turn people away from Jesus rather towards him? And, what exactly is my specific purpose anyways? So. Much. Pressure.
I feel ya, friends. Let’s do this today: let’s take all of that anxiety about discovering our specific “calling,” all of that worry about the future, all of those distractions, and let’s roll them up in a little ball. Hand them to God. And declare that you have one purpose: to share the Good News – and to have fun while doing it.
Here’s a little secret: God wants you to share the Good News that his Son Jesus died on the cross to save each one of us. So, he’s not gonna leave you hanging. He’ll be there. He’ll push away the distractions. He’ll give you the words. He’ll help you identify your specific purpose in his Kingdom. He’ll make a way.
And, if you let him, he’ll fill you with pure joy as you live it out.
Prayer: God, I pray for the joy that Paul has. I pray that my calling is clear, and I pray that you’ll make a way. Fill me with a sense of purpose and passion and guide each of my steps as I live to share your Good News. Amen.