October 19, 2015

Messy Money

“A Worthy Project” Romans 15:22-28
People who live generously give generously. Believers are able to live and give in this way because they have a healthy relationship with God. They understand the power that comes with the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. They live out their faith in gratitude to God for his blessings.

Paul appealed to the churches he founded on his missionary journeys to give to a most worthy cause. The land of Israel suffered a severe drought during the first century. As a result, many of the Jewish Christians were literally starving. The situation was critical and help was sorely needed. Paul proposed the collecting of a relief offering to help these Jewish believers. This “offering” became so important to Paul that it became a rallying point in several of his letters.

The Book of Acts (20-28) also mentions the importance of this offering to Paul. This worthy project changed Paul’s life. He was determined to see the funds delivered to the church in Jerusalem. His friends warned him not to return to Israel for they feared he would be arrested. Their fears were warranted. When Paul did return to deliver the offering, he was arrested and imprisoned. He stood before Roman officials on more than one occasion and finally appealed his case to Caesar as was his right as a Roman citizen. From there he was taken by ship to Rome where he was imprisoned while waiting to appear before the Roman emperor.

Why was this offering so important to Paul? His mission was to the Gentiles. Yet many of his own Jewish brothers resented his work to bring the Gospel to Gentiles. He desired to break down the barriers between Jewish and Gentile believers. What better way for the predominantly Gentile congregations outside Israel to show the love of Jesus than to help the Jewish Christians who were suffering? This was a bridge, a connection that would foster cooperation and support for all Christians.