"May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." - Romans 15:5-6
Paul was writing to an ethnically and culturally diverse congregation in Rome. There were Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor, Roman citizens and slaves, established merchants, tradesmen and laborers, all part of one congregation. The potential for misunderstandings, jealousy, divisions and quarreling was huge. Their testimony of Christian love could easily be ruined by infighting and divisiveness.
What’s more, people from all over the Empire came to Rome for one reason or another and saw Christianity being lived out in peoples’ lives for the first time in this congregation. They would take the report of what they saw back to their homes. The potential for the knowledge of Christ and the news of the Gospel to be spread by this congregation was also huge.
Living in harmony with other people who are different from us requires patient endurance and constant encouragement. It’s not easy. Without the Holy Spirit’s enabling us to forgive one another and humbly serve one another we soon descend into the natural human behavior of party politics.
So Paul prays for the church in Rome, as we pray for our own congregation where we live: may the God of endurance and encouragement grant us to live in such harmony that we can glorify Him together.
Let Jesus be glorified in our congregation so that as we know Him and walk together with Him, others will then come to know Him, too.
Lord Jesus, give us patient endurance, forbearance, mutual forgiveness and the ability to encourage one another by Your grace, in humble service to one another and loving service together as your Body here in this place. Be glorified in our church. Amen.
Pastor Dan Giles