Sometimes, when we serve on the margins, things go missing. I usually try and ask God to bless the ‘new owner’, sometimes I shake my head with sadness that someone would steal something I would gladly give. Once though I was really challenged to maintain a proper attitude. Someone had lifted my Bible! It was not one of the many bibles that we use. This was MY Bible. It was my first modern translation. It contained all my notes from my student years through to the day. Especially dear to me were the notes I had been making in the Book of Romans. I had fanciful ideas of one day compiling those notes into a book! Each page of Romans was covered in blood. I had used that Bible as I slipped into the ‘bush’ around Shammattawa Mb. to study in peace. There were so many mosquitoes that I could not help but squish some each time I closed the book.
It was like returning to an old friend when our Street Hope Prayer and Study group turned to Romans to start our latest study session. I am finding that most of the important notes were not just written in the margins of a blood stained book but were also etched on my heart!
When I was teaching Preaching at Taylor College, I used to say “First you tell them what you are going to tell them, then you tell them, and then you tell them what you told them.” I learned this from Paul.
He tells the Romans, in the introduction, what he is going to tell them. In verse 5 Paul sets out that the task is to call both Jews and Gentiles to “… the obedience that comes from faith.” This is the lens through which we can see and understand the rest of his treatise. The universal need for faith lived through obedience.
Some of the most important commentaries on Romans have latched on to the theme “By Faith Alone” and I agree that we come to God through faith alone. “Nothing in my hand I bring, Simply to thy cross I cling.” Paul though is not satisfied with saving faith alone. His desire is that we should come to an obedience that comes from faith!
This is an important lesson for us in the 21st Century West. It is a key lesson for our little Street Hope community. Our faith becomes convincing proof of Jesus when it is evidenced by obedience.
Jesus himself gives us the simple picture of what obedience looks like. “Love God, Love your neighbour.”
I will never likely write a book but I believe we are in for an exciting time at Street Hope as we study this book “The Gospel According to Saint Paul”
As a post script: If after Christians have paid for Creflo’s new jet and they have any spare change, I could use some help. I make my budget by working part time with the Federal Government providing chaplaincy services to ex-offenders and their families. The last contract ran out March 31st and a new one has not been put in place for April. I have high hopes that this will be fixed in the next month or perhaps two but in the mean time I must deal with this short fall. It amounts to a little over $2,000/month. I know that these are tough times for many and understand if you cannot help but please pray for us. It may not be ‘jet’ money but it is important to me. Thank you in advance.