I want to introduce you to a very good friend. I never met him in person, never shook his hand. We never met up at a coffee shop and talked about life, or stood next to each other at church and worshipped in community together. I have never heard his voice or seen him speak, but I have felt his words – inspired by the Holy Spirit – to the depths of my soul. His name is Paul of Tarsus, and he is one of my closest friends.
As we read the Book of Acts recently, in the Pause plan, we got a wonderful view of Paul, of the man he was on both sides of the Damascus road. We see his courage and his resolve. We see his flaws and his humility. We see his care and love for his fellow Christians, and their love for him in return, and all those things move my spirit. When, in Acts 20, he meets with the Ephesian elders and tells them that he will never see them again, they wept. I wept too, because Paul is a good friend, but above all, Paul is obedient, and I want to learn from this man, this Apostle of Jesus Christ.
This week, we read these words in Paul’s introduction to the letter to the Roman Christians: “I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong – that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith” (Romans 1:11-12). I love Paul’s excitement to be together with other believers, his passion to grow together. His words are not just for the Roman Christians. They are for you and me today.
Paul is making a plea to us. He is telling his fellow Christians to come together and be encouraged and strengthened by one another. He is telling us that the most advanced Christian can, and will, receive something from the humblest – even a new Christian. He is pleading with us to come together, as believers, and grow in community together. He is giving us reason and cause to take part in a spiritual transaction, where we all become both giver and receiver, and that faith is built up in the process – and you know what? That looks like church to me. It looks like our church. No. It looks like Jesus’ Church – and we get to be a part of it, and I am mutually encouraged and strengthened by that fact.
So, this week, I invite you to listen to the words of my friend, the Apostle Paul, and let us come together and impart spiritual gifts to one another so that we may be encouraged today.
Pastor Ben McEntee