“Wrestling With Romans”
Fellowship in the Gospel – (Chapter 16 Verses 1-16)
This couple, Priscilla and Aquila, actually put their lives on the line for the Apostle (v4), in other words they shielded him from death. Such loyalty, outstanding Christian devotion, is what the New Testament demands of us all (1John 3.16). Do you think perhaps years of ease and comfort, without threat to life or limb, too much of our own way, and the blight of materialism, has robbed the Church of this devotion and loyalty, in the West anyway? You can’t help but think, tremblingly, that persecution would do the Church a lot of good, it might remove a lot of the dross from her? I think it was Charles Spurgeon who said, “only a martyr like faith was saving faith”. But we must be cautious, we mustn’t boast, we don’t know how we would fair in such circumstances, we don’t ever ask for it. Remember Peter (John 13.37-38)? There was gratitude in the heart of Paul, and all the Gentile Churches towards these two people, they were obviously very outstanding Christians, full of faith, commitment, and the Holy Spirit. The kind of people you could rely on, build on, and establish a work with. The kind of people we need today.
There are lots of names here, too many to go through one at a time, and some we know very little of, if anything about (vv5-16). But an army of men and women, servants together in the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Notice the interaction, the over-lapping of the work, and workers throughout different Churches. There was none of the extreme independency we see with many Churches in our land today. There was fellowship, real fellowship, sharing in the gospel between them. Not all the Churches would be the identical. But it seems that any one person from this army of workers could move from one location to another and fit in with other Churches, maybe a different ethos, and work, harmoniously. The degree to how much you’re willing, or not, to fit in within the Church today tells an awful lot about you. There are too many one-armed-bandits around, lone rangers, who just can’t fit in, and seemingly anywhere. Nothing is ever right for them, and everything is wrong, and if it’s not just how they want it then they refuse to fit in. That spirit and attitude would never have got you on Paul’s list of commendation here. We need workers like these, people content to leave the nit-picking to others, and roll their sleeves up, and break sweat, to work. That’s how souls are saved and Churches are built.
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)