Romans 15: 5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus
Yesterday, we held an Appalachian/folk music service at the church. Because the songs were so well known to the congregation, the singing was absolutely amazing. Our praise band became a bluegrass band for the day, complete with a mandolin and banjo. The whole worship experience was so uplifting that many people want us to do it again. Perhaps we may follow up on that request once per quarter.
I think the whole Scots-Irish and mountain music connections unified the entire congregation in a novel and encouraging way. It also allowed me to begin casting a vision for the whole church to be thinking about how we express our faith and extend our influence in the surrounding community. If we can connect with one another joyfully through worship, then we can present a united witness to our neighborhood. I hope that yesterday was rebirth of who we are and a recommitment to the Christ we serve.
When Paul is signing off his letter to the Romans, he wants to leave them with an uplifting prayer. He knows that the Christian Church in Rome is most vulnerable to persecution by the Emperor. So Paul bids farewell to them with a blessing of endurance and encouragement. He wants them to know how important they are to him; he wants them also to feel blessed and supported by God.
With a spirit of unity, any Christian church can endure and find encouragement in their faith. Those who follow Jesus are given the task of presenting His message to the community. Whether it’s through music or ministry, worship or witness, or service and support, the effectiveness of the Gospel being positively received in a community is in direct proportion to the unity of any Christian church in that area. Without a unified vision, the people scatter and perish. With a unified commitment to Christ, a church becomes more than just another social club in the community; it becomes a relevant part of God’s Kingdom.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we pray for the gift of unity to be given to our congregations. We ask that You allow Your Spirit to strengthen us in commitment, to encourage us in worship, and to unite us in serving Your Kingdom in our communities. Grant us the blessings of endurance and encouragement so that we may attract others to follow You. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment on today’s message, please send him an mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.