Romans 1.1-7 – Follower first

Recently I contributed to an online discussion panel about the motivations we have for sanctification, so, why are we willing participants with God in the process of becoming more and more like Jesus. All the usual and expected answers came up, things like ‘to be a better wife/husband’, ‘because I know who I was and I don’t want to be him/her again’, ‘to be a better leader in my church/home/job’. Then, one person offered this, 

“It has been revolutionary for me to just focus on being a decent Christian each day, and to see how that has permeated the different roles that I have as a husband, parent, son, minister, teacher, etc.

Each day, as I focus on just trying to be a decent Christian, I find that a first focus on who I am, impacts the roles that I am called to fill.”

The beautifully simple thing about this answer is that the priorities are right – focus on being a believer first and foremost, and that will permeate its way through the rest of our lives. If we focus on being a follower of Jesus, a disciple, then every situation we find ourselves in will be an opportunity for us to be a disciple. 

Romans 1 opens with this, take a deep breath, its a long sentence;

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, 6 including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,

7 To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

So, right off the bat we see how Paul views himself, Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus. Servant first. Follower first. Disciple first. This is in itself a noble task, following the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Everything Paul says about himself and about anything else will follow this, first I am a servant of Jesus. 

Paul goes on to make some interesting points, first, that the Gospel is not his to proclaim (the gospel of God), and that the centre of our faith is One who is both fully human (his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh) and fully Divine (and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead). He closes the opening to his letter with a very Pauline blessing, that combines both Greek and Jewish thinking, Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

For us then, we need to think like Paul does here, first, I am a servant of Jesus. Follower first, husband, pastor, engineer, doctor, teacher, wife, mum, dad, brother, sister, everything else second. When this happens, we will see God from the right perspective, and, as we said yesterday, we will see ourselves from the right perspective too. 

Today let us pray this –

Lord, help me to be a believer first, help me to find fulfilment as a follower of Jesus first and foremost. Help me take this position into every other situation and circumstance I encounter today, and help me live the truth of one who has been redeemed by your Son.

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