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Romans blog post 1: In your eyes

January 18, 2015

Romans 1:1

Well it’s been a while since I concluded my blog tour through John’s gospel and I’ve been amazed how that process has unlocked that book for me. I now find myself regularly digging back into John when looking for sermon material and see that I am preaching with a sense of context rather than just looking at the words of a particular passage or taking events in isolation.

So time to move on to a new project.

Time I think to look at something a little different. A New Testament letter. And if you’re looking for a challenge why not go for the first and longest of them all? Romans?

Again I must have read this many times and I am sure that there will be sections which sound so familiar. In my head I can hear Romans 8, 3, 12, 6 being shouted out like a religious bingo caller. But again I think I will try and put that familiarity on one side and try to approach this afresh as much as I can.

I tried to come to John without preconceptions and was constantly taken by surprise. So let’s see if the same happens again.

Ok it’s a letter. Remember when you used to get letters? Nowadays in the days of texts and emails, it seems on the occasions I do get a letter 95% of the time I can be pretty sure it’s junk. That’s pretty clear from the address on the back of the envelope, or the header as I tear the letter open. Personal letters of course might mean we look at the end first to see who it’s from. In our days at school we were taught how to write letters and were expected to put an address in the top right corner.

So when the letters of the New Testament introduce the writer at the start perhaps that’s not so much different to what we are used to. I mean you know straight away who that email is from.

So the email alert pings. It’s from Paul. Apparently there is some scholarly disagreement about who wrote this letter, but the first word is quite helpful.

PAUL.

As I once said to someone doing some evangelism role play “Paul Who?”

The writer’s credentials:

A servant of Christ Jesus.

An apostle.

In those two phrases Paul identifies himself as someone of high standing in the early church and yet at the same time as one of lowly state. As apostle he identified himself with those who were eye witnesses of the life death and resurrection of Jesus. Status though was not what he sought. He was a servant. A slave to Jesus.

Paul of course regards himself as eye witness even though we might quickly say “he wasn’t a disciple of Jesus. He never met him never mind saw him.”

After Jesus’ death and resurrection and ascension Paul was an avowed enemy of Jesus’ followers. So surely he missed the boat as far as apostleship was concerned. Yet something happened to Paul (or Saul as he was then) which totally transformed his life, from enemy of Jesus to servant of Jesus.

Blinding lights, a loud voice. We can read a little of Paul’s experience on the road to Damascus in Acts. Paul was very clear what happened – he met with Jesus. He was an eye witness. In a way we can only imagine. But for him the encounter was every bit as real.

Going one way. BANG! A complete turn around.

A man driven to destroy the church now has a calling. Called by Jesus to witness to what he has seen and build his church.

Transformation. Jesus can do that. He still does that.

Something dramatic happened to Paul. The change was such that it has to be worth us listening to what he has to say.

A new journey starts here.

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From → Christianity

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