What happens when you walk into the front door of your church? Do people wave at you, smile, call you by name? Or do you walk in, just another face in a sea of anonymous souls coming to find your seat, sing some songs, and hear a sermon? I hear a lot of people complain that their church is too big, not friendly enough, or makes them feel unimportant. But, as today’s passage helps us discover, “church” in God’s economy is not a place where we go to consume, but a community of saints who each give what they have for the good of others and the gospel. And, sometimes, it is costly.
- Describe your role at your church or in your faith community?
READ THE WORD: ROMANS 16:1-16 (ESV)
16:1 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, 2 that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well.
3 Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, 4 who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well. 5 Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in Asia. 6 Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. 7 Greet Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me. 8 Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. 9 Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my beloved Stachys. 10 Greet Apelles, who is approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus. 11 Greet my kinsman Herodion. Greet those in the Lord who belong to the family of Narcissus. 12 Greet those workers in the Lord, Tryphaena and Tryphosa. Greet the beloved Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord. 13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord; also his mother, who has been a mother to me as well. 14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers who are with them. 15 Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. 16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- There are twenty-six different people mentioned in this passage. Some are given descriptions of their character or work. Which are described positively, which simply named?
- Which of these descriptions stands out to you as particularly noteworthy or praiseworthy? Why?
- What is a description that Paul applied to more than one person?
- If a key leader were to write a letter to your church, how would you be described? How would you want to be described? What do you need to do to become that person or continue in that direction?
RESPOND TO GOD
I love this passage. It feels to me like the roll call of the not-so-famous but infinitely faithful men and women in the church—the people who really did the work and gave their lives for the good of the gospel. Paul was the famous mouthpiece of God in the church, but Prisca and Phoebe and all the others did their part with the same faith and obedience. Churches need countless men and women who work, serve, and sometimes, suffer. We are all called to take our place in the church for the glory of God. We all have something important to give. So, what would be said of you in your church? Would you even be noticed if you didn’t show up? If so, maybe it is time to take your place of faith, and work.
- If you are feeling overlooked in your church, talk to God about your motivations and ask God to help you continue serving with faith and hope and love. Ask God for endurance.
- Ask God if you are really doing your part in your church/community. Ask him to show you ways to step up, get involved, and help. Pray for courage to ask a leader or pastor what you can do to be a part.