WELCOME ONE ANOTHER . . . In joy, In peace, In hope

“Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God . . . May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:7,13 from Romans 15:7-13 )

In between verses 7 and 13 Paul quotes from portions of the Old Testament that point to the inclusion of Gentiles into the Lord’s plan. As I said previously the believers in Rome were a mix of Jews and Gentiles – sometimes it seems that Paul writes as if they were mostly Jews, and other times as if they were mostly Gentiles. Maybe Paul is wanting to address both so that whatever mix is present at the reading of this letter, they feel addressed and understood.

But whatever the proportion, Paul stressed several times that all should live in unity and harmony, offending no one and welcoming all. And it seems to me that Christians in the United States have much in common with the Christians in Rome during the time that Paul was preaching and evangelizing. We and they live under a government that expects allegiance while gathering under its a diverse group of people. The government likes to portray itself as benevolent, but up to and including obedience and conformity. Anything outside of that is frowned on and nudged into changing. Unfortunately corporate Christianity has done the same thing, gathering many diverse people but exerting force on them to change and conform. We are to be under the rule and auspice of the Spirit, and not any regulation put together by humanity. But, . . . wait, . . . I am starting to sound political; Paul has that sort of effect on me.

Joy, peace, hope. Right relationship, justice, shalom. These are the attributes we need to strive for and live under. Nothing else will do.

May you gentle reader welcome all believers from every part of the world, and work diligently to spread joy, peace and hope empowered by the Spirit. Selah! And shalom for your day.