Rabbi’s Reflections – Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Love Each Other / Glorify God part 19 – Romans, part 244

Romans 15:23 But now with no place in these regions, and since I have had a desire for many years to come to you, 24 I hope to see you while traveling through when I go to Spain—and to be helped on my journey there by you, if first I may enjoy your company for a bit.

Paul is discussing his travel plans.  Practically, he states he doesn’t have a place (to rest) “in these regions.”  So he expresses his desire to visit the community in Rome on his way to Spain, so that “I may enjoy your company for a bit.”  What if Paul were planning to visit Shomair in Knoxville.  Would he be welcome?

I can’t decide if I should answer the question directly, or build a case to explain my answer before actually giving you my answer.  Maybe you have your own answer.  Some of the answer might depend on when he was planning to visit.  In the early part of his ministry, Paul made a lot of trouble wherever he went.  The same is true of his latter ministry.

He sets up what he is about to declare by plainly stating… 2 Corinthians 11:23b …I speak like I’m out of my mind.  Then he starts to get into the details… 2Corinthians 11:24 Five times from the Jewish leaders I received forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I suffered shipwreck. A night and a day I spent in the open sea.  

But Paul wasn’t just making trouble for himself and those around him, he was spreading the Gospel while building up new communities of believers as is fitting for an apostle. When he was called to account, he submitted his life to local authorities.  Act 21:26  The next day Paul took the men, purifying himself along with them. He went into the Temple, announcing when the days of purification would be completed and the sacrifice would be offered for each one of them.

We should certainly be among those whom Paul would want to visit, and when the opportunity came, we would want to receive him as a brother.  Then, when his time with us is fulfilled, we should want to send him on his journey enriched, refreshed and well equipped for his future travels.

Even so, this act of submission (when he went to purify himself in the Temple) by Paul led to much trouble (read the rest of Acts 21).  But then, in Acts 22, Paul is permitted to give his testimony to a large audience.  Ultimately, he appears before the governor, Felix, to make this statement… Acts 24:14  “But this I confess to you, that according to the Way (which they call a sect), I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything written in the Torah and the Prophets.”

What made Paul disagreeable to the worldly rulers and scribes of his day was his unwavering righteous devotion to the Gospel and all the teachings of Yeshua.  Therefore; anyone in whom the enemy has a stronghold will be disrupted by his witness.  Paul’s righteous witness sounds like exactly the message we should desire in our own community.   So, if the Spirit would lead Paul to visit Shomair, we would definitely welcome him with warm fellowship and hospitality.  May his witness become our own.  Shalom shalom.

Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
Wed 27-Dec-2023 15th of Tevet, 5784
Ge 49:1-18 2 Sa 2 Ps 71 Lk 3 (2 Co 12)