I’ve been a member of a wide variety of churches over the years. Everything from one-room country churches to an urban megachurch. Although our core beliefs were the same, each church was unique. Churches over time take on an identity of their own. Some churches are classified as liberal, others conservative. Some churches are seen as dead or dying, and other churches as alive in the Spirit. Some churches are known for their preaching or singing or the demographics that make up the body. Every church has an identity. The early Church of Rome did too.
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. Romans 1:8
We won’t rush over this as we begin this quarter’s study on the book of Romans. Without the aid of social media, slick marketing campaigns or a nationally televised ministry, the small church in Rome was known throughout the world for one thing – their faith.
Rome was not (and still is not) an ideal place for a church of believers during the days of Paul. Christianity was not a popular religion and faced fierce persecution from those same powers that sought to take the life of Christ. To be a Christian in Rome was to take your very life in your hands.
With all that the church in Rome faced, somehow they conducted themselves in ways that they were spoken of as a group of believers with faith. We can only speculate on how they went about their daily lives. We would probably be safe in assuming that they were devoted to the cause of Christ and that they were committed to each other.
That sounds so simple even as I write it — devoted to Christ and committed to each other. In reality, it is more significant than the words may sound.
Paul was an example of a person devoted to Christ. His entire life revolved around spreading the gospel across the land. He sacrificed life and limb to tell the gospel story and to help others grow up into the full stature of men and women in Christ.
It would be an understatement to use words like focused or passionate to describe Paul. Focused like a laser, Paul allowed nothing to deter his calling as an apostle of Christ. But, it was something more that drove Paul.
His passion for Jesus and spreading the gospel was sincere and unwavering. He could debate with the brightest minds of his generation and meet logic with logic, knowledge with knowledge. He would preach the gospel in the presence of friend and foe. He was all in. But it was still something more that drove Paul.
Paul was converted. He stood as a shining beacon of a man who had forsaken his past and embraced his future. He showed us what having a real encounter with Jesus looks like. He showed us what the new birth means. From Saul the persecutor to Paul the Apostle, we witness the converting power of Jesus Christ.
As we continue through this quarter we will study Paul’s earnest admonishment to stay true to the faith and to constantly reach towards the mark of our high calling. His letter to this church is but an example of Paul’s care and concern that all would be saved. Let’s take his words to heart as messages of care to us.
Here are a few Hit the Mark questions for this week’s lesson discussion:
- What does having faith mean to you?
- Is faith primarily about being positive at all times and in all situations? Explain your answer.
- How would you describe a successful church?
- Describe what it means to be a committed Christian?
- What does it mean to be converted and what, if any, are the evidences?
- Is it possible to be a committed member of a church yet not be converted? Why yes or no?
- What, if any, is the difference between indoctrination and discipleship?
- Is the following statement True, Mostly True, Somewhat True or Not True: Being a faithful member of a church should improve one’s life spiritually, physically and financially. Explain your answer.
We close this week’s lesson with a part of the Beatitudes. It appears to be counsel from Jesus that the church in Rome accepted and lived.
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16
Until next week, let’s all continue to Hit the Mark in Sabbath School!
Source: Daily Sabbath School Lessons