Main Idea

It can be easy to grow cynical in a world that seems full of despair, but our faith in Christ reveals a greater hope in the kingdom of God.

 

Scripture

Romans 15:1-13 (CEB)

 

1 We who are powerful need to be patient with the weakness of those who don’t have power, and not please ourselves. 2 Each of us should please our neighbors for their good in order to build them up. 3 Christ didn’t please himself, but, as it is written, The insults of those who insulted you fell on me. 4 Whatever was written in the past was written for our instruction so that we could have hope through endurance and through the encouragement of the scriptures. 5 May the God of endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude toward each other, similar to Christ Jesus’ attitude. 6 That way you can glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ together with one voice.

 

7 So welcome each other, in the same way that Christ also welcomed you, for God’s glory. 8 I’m saying that Christ became a servant of those who are circumcised for the sake of God’s truth, in order to confirm the promises given to the ancestors, 9 and so that the Gentiles could glorify God for his mercy. As it is written,

 

Because of this I will confess you among the Gentiles,

   and I will sing praises to your name.

 

10 And again, it says,

 

Rejoice, Gentiles, with his people.

 

11 And again,

 

Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles,

   and all the people should sing his praises.

 

12 And again, Isaiah says,

 

There will be a root of Jesse,

   who will also rise to rule the Gentiles.

       The Gentiles will place their hope in him.

 

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in faith so that you overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

 

Unpack it!  The Letter to the Romans is Paul’s attempt to bridge the divide in the church in Rome.  There was a group of Jewish Christians who believed that Christianity was only available to people willing to make themselves more “Jewish” by coming under the Old Testament laws (circumcision, dietary codes, etc.). Paul makes a case for including Gentiles in the church exactly as they are, and builds his case on the argument that Gentile inclusion is part of God’s good plan for the world.  Paul himself admits that he doesn’t understand exactly where this will take them, or what church may look like in the future, but he is incredibly comfortable in trusting God’s guidance. He finds hope in knowing that God is at work in the lives of all people, and that God’s kingdom is here in many ways and coming fully in the end.

 

Discussing the Text

Why do you think Paul could be so positive about the future, considering all the struggles he endured in his life?  (Paul was shipwrecked, imprisoned, tortured, and would end up dying for his faith)

 

Why do you think the inclusion of Gentiles would have created stress for the Jewish Christians?

 

Paul’s hope is not in himself or his situation, but in his faith and in his Savior.  How has your faith or your relationship with Christ been a source of hope for you?

 

Questions for a Deeper Faith

 

Is there anything that you feel especially cynical about in your life right now?  Why you think you feel that way?

 

What are some ways for us to connect to the hope of Christ in seasons of despair?  (Think spiritual and practical)

 

How can we share the hope of Christ with people around us?  Evangelism doesn’t have to be preaching on street-corners, think about some creative or simple ways to offer Christ’s hope to those who need to hear and experience it!

 

Closing Prayer

 

God,

Thank you for the ways you give us hope by showing us your love.

Thank you for this community that surrounds us in your love.

Help us to reach out and share the love, hope, and community we have with others so that they might come to know you.

Amen.