First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.

Romans 1: 8

 

The proud parent speaks. Paul was a very real father to the newly born followers of Christ in Rome and in other parts of his world. So, when these people had become known for their faithful adherence to Christ’s calling upon them to live righteous and loving lives, Paul felt a personal sense of pride in it all. For me this fact sets out a combination of permission, mandate, and challenge.

 

First, there is the permission. It is good to have a feeling of pride in the way that we have had an influence for Christ on the people in our world. I think that God wants us to follow Him in coaching and mentoring others in their faith and in expressing the sort of satisfied delight that a parent holds for a child’s accomplishments. Turning away from the powerful pull of the world to follow Christ is not easy for most of us, and doing this is worthy of recognition and praise. The fact that God desires for His followers to enter into and to invest in the lives of others also establishes the mandate from our Lord that we do this. Christ absolutely cares for the souls of everyone, and He wants us to follow His lead in this with total commitment.

 

So, this leads to the challenge. It is two-fold, and they are inter-related. Living openly, overtly even, as a follower of Christ in our world is not easy, convenient, or well accepted. The idea that our faith; yours, mine, and that of our church; would be the subject of any sort of public commentary, much less that it would be the cause for world-wide proclamation, is overwhelming to consider. Yet, that is what happened with these early Christians who were living in a culture that was far more antagonistic to their faith than ours is on its worst day. Thus, living boldly for Christ all of the time and in every situation is the first half of the challenge. However, Christ wants us to do more than live righteously; for, He calls upon us to lead others into the sort of relationship with God that will cause them to lay down their lives in service to the King of Glory.