Thursday, September 27, 2007

Obligations

I want to work among you and see good results . . . For I have a great sense of obligation to people in our culture and to people in other cultures . . . Romans 1:13-14

Have you ever declined an invitation with the words, "Thank you for the invitation, but I have another obligation?" Did you really have another obligation? Did you feel a little guilty? Or, maybe you have even had someone "Do you a favor" in order to make you feel obligated to them (that's actually manipulation). You know what I am talking about.

Paul wrote to some people he had yet to meet, but felt a great sense of obligation toward. His was not the kind of obligation he could conveniently decline, but neither was it a begrudging obligation thrust on him by a manipulator. On the contrary, he could hardly wait to fulfill his obligation. He was itching to get together with these strangers, roll up his sleeves, and work among his new, multicultural friends. He wrote to tell them he would engage in only one type of activity -- activity which could only conclude with one kind of result -- good!

I truly believe that the same sense of obligation Paul lived with is placed in the hearts of those who have received new life through faith in Christ. It is the kind of obligation we sometimes sense toward people we do not even know. Down deep inside, we can't give up on the sense that God has a way to get us involved in their lives. He has set His love on them, and we are to look for opportunities for the introductions.

Ours is the kind of obligation that Jesus himself foretold. He said, "When the Holy Spirit is come (and He did at Pentecost), He will put in us an irrepressible compelling to tell the story of Jesus all over the place (Acts 1:8)."

Let me suggest something. Start this way with the gospel. Put yourself in Paul's place for a few minutes and think about what he said, "I want to work among you. Your cultural background makes no difference!" Like Paul, enter your day-to-day environment with a determination to invest in people, through actions and interactions, in a way which can only bring about one kind of result -- good.

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