Daily reading: 31 July
We need to be adaptable.
I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in earnest prayer to God on my behalf, that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my ministry to Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company. The God of peace be with all of you. Amen.
- Romans 15:30-33, from full reading Romans 15:22-33.
Paul did get to Rome in the event, but not to Spain as he'd hoped.
Trouble awaited him when he arrived in Jerusalem with the collection for the Christians there. After narrowly escaping death at the hands of fellow Jews, he appealed for justice to the emperor and was sent to Rome under armed escort.
His active ministry was now at an end; as a prisoner in Rome, he could not minister to the Christians there as he would have wished or be “refreshed in their company”. Were his prayers, then, unanswered?
One can only suggest the God took the long view; in his confinement, Paul continued to write letters to Christian churches in the Eastern Mediterranean, with his usual aim of defending the truth of the Gospel and condemning false teaching.
Paul’s personal ministry to congregations was undoubtedly life-changing; but it is his letters which have continued to teach Christians and challenge us down the ages.
Things don’t always work out as we hope or expect, so we need to be adaptable. There's a lesson for us here as we plan our projects for Christian Aid.
Giving things is helpful short-term; helping those in need to help themselves is even better, and dealing with the root causes of poverty even better again.
Read, research, get dirt on your boots and find out what the real needs and underlying causes are.
God of truth and compassion, help us carefully to discern your call to us and know the true needs of your people, that our gifts of time and money may be effective and in accordance with your will. Amen.
Today’s contributor is Canon Ginnie Kennerley, editor of SEARCH – A Church of Ireland Journal and former rector of Narraghmore and Castledermot in Glendalough diocese.
Published on 30 July 2020