Does it Make a Difference? Radical Grace from the Book of Romans (1:9-16)

Swiss watch

"God, whom I serve with my whole heart…" (Rom 1:9 NIV)

"…that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith." (Rom 1:12 NIV)

"I am so eager to preach the gospel…" (Rom 1:15 NIV)

"I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes…" (Rom 1:16NIV)

Have you noticed that most of what we buy doesn't last very long? According to the engineering department of one Canadian university, computers are built to last only a few years, forcing people to buy a new one on regular intervals.

I bought a watch a few years back. It cost a bit more than I wanted to pay, and it was a bit heavy for my liking. Nonetheless it was supposed to last. I hadn't had it long when I noticed it didn't keep time accurately. Not too good when you have appointments to attend!

"Why are you so late sir?"

"My watch is running a bit behind today for some reason."

"And we are supposed to believe that?"

My wife's watch, bought at the same time, was considerably less expensive. It was a Swiss-made watch, and even after seven years it still keeps accurate time. Three years ago, I replaced my expensive watch with a much less expensive one of the same brand as my wife's. Now I no longer run behind. I can finally trust my watch. No more…"I think it is seven fifteen, at least according to my watch."

We, as Christians, function like a watch. We are the watchers of the night, alerting society of what is yet to come, and encouraging fellow believers to be on time for the upcoming celebration with our Lord and Master.

But how often do we actually encourage others?

Life is hard and discouragement lurks around every corner. One word of encouragement can do miracles. Just take the young gentleman, on the verge of committing suicide. Heading to the bridge of self-annihilation, he met a person who genuinely smiled at him. It stopped him in his tracks, and his soul began to be filled with hope once again.

How often are we eager to preach the gospel? Are we seeing it as what it truly is: "the power of God"? Or are we more concerned about how we will be perceived?

Does it really make a difference?

It sure did to a Muslim tow truck driver. When a pastor's car broke down, he was picked up by the tow truck and taken, with his car, to the garage. The pastor was thus given the opportunity to converse with the driver, and the driver became filled with hope. He had recently met another Christian and had been impressed. He decided to come and visit this pastor's church and even invited him to his home.

Excitement is catchy! It doesn't only fill others with adrenaline, but also with hope.

Are we truly an encouragement to others? Are we a smiling-kind of Christian, or are we the long-faced sour kind of believer? It sure makes a difference to others.

Are we praising God as if the roof has fallen on our head (Ouch!) Or are we worshipping Him filled with awe and excitement? It sure makes a difference to others. People notice those who are excited for God.

Are we the kind of Christian that is abundantly filled with hope from above? Hope is just as catchy as excitement. Those filled with hope can't help but serve God with all of their hearts.

If hope is alluding us, maybe it's time that we spend more time with the one who is called "hope" (See Col 1:27b), maybe it's time that we open the Scriptures that are filled with promises from above. Maybe, just maybe, it's time that we fill our mind with hope from above, instead of with the negative news of the media of today.

If we were to all do this, we wouldn't be able to keep that hope from filling us to the brim, and others would notice that we are truly different. After all, aren't we the messengers of hope?

Are we pointing to the right time or have we stopped ticking?

Rob Chaffart

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