Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Over my Shoulder

A lot of things have happened to people while reading Romans.  As I read Romans 1:16-17 this morning,  it seemed to me that I was not alone.  The feeling was so strong I actually looked over my shoulder.  I am not going to say I saw anyone, but I suddenly became aware that I was reading something which had been read by others for such a long time.  I thought of Martin Luther, the instigator of the Protestant Reformation, and John Wesley, the father of Methodism, both of whom had the direction of their lives changed by these early verses of Romans.  And alongside of them was Augustine, a 4th century church father, and Karl Barth, a 20th century theologian.  Both had their lives impacted by this 1st century letter to the early church in Rome.

Of course, there were more than just four in the room with me by then.  It was as if the room was overflowing with believers not so different than me who had read these words and held them in their hearts.  I do not think there has been a time when I have been so aware of how I was doing something that had been done by so many for so many centuries.  It truly seemed that I had stepped into this stream of the faithful ones of God who had read the very Word I was reading, cherished it, lived by it, and found their hope within it.  It was a moment of not being alone, but of sensing the fellowship of the many who had gone on before me.

If being read for so long by so many adds to the credibility of what is being read, then there can be no more credible reading than what we know as the written Word of God.  It is mind boggling to think about how many times one single passage has been read and how many have held it in their hands.  This morning I rejoiced in the fact that I was one of that crowd of believers who had read from Romans and known that it truly was the power of God for salvation for everyone....even me.

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