“For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you, that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” (Romans 1:9-12). The third occurrence of ‘Christ Faith’ in Paul’s Letter, To The Romans.
The trip to Rome is of both primary and fundamental importance in Paul’s life by the time he writes this Letter. Let it be known to all that he swears an oath to ‘God as his witness’ to the validity of his truth— he ‘prays without ceasing’, a ‘longing’ to be able to have this visit. With this fervency, this urgency, this passion, he finds worth repeating in this text: spirit.
In the first place, he can tell them that God is his witness because of ‘his spirit service’; which he received when he first believed in the gospel of His Son. He had been overheard in Corinth saying to some new disciples that he met, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They said “no, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” Still again, the purpose of this constant prayer to visit them— ‘to impart some spiritual gift’.
‘Impart/metado’ (conjures up ‘methadone’? OK?), but, the word that Paul uses has at it’s root ‘meta’- to change. It is also the root of Jesus’ first word— repent/’metanoia’- change your mind. Understand that this word, ‘metado’/impart is so rare that there are only three occurrences of it in the entire New Testament, this being one of two that are used by Paul. While Webster defines impart as ‘to divide’; ‘to bestow a share of’; ‘give from one’s share or abundance’; ‘communicate by words or signs’; ‘disclose’; for Paul it is a word that is dynamic enough to cause change.
This conjuring up of ‘methadone’, though, gives me the thought that there is a ‘heroin/hate addiction’ in America that requires the ‘strait jacket’, intervention healing approach. It occurs to me that ‘Twelve Steps’ must be taken to rid the national life of this systemic evil— first of which is ‘confession’. I recall the day I participated in the Delta’s re-enactment of the ‘Women’s Suffrage March of 1913′. Simultaneously, in the Tennessee Capital Plaza was another group whose protest signs read, “Keep your hands off Health Care”. It occurs to me that this group is a re-enactment of the ‘Little Rock Central High School Integration Day of 1957’. That week we witnessed the ‘spitting on’ of a Black judicial leader and the, what is now, open and free use of the N-word as slander. Then ‘they/we’ all went to Church the following day in this Christian?? Nation. “If we confess our sin, God is faithful…”. Andrew Young went on record at the ‘100th Anniversary of the NAACP’ to relay Martin Luther King’s saying to him that he was worried that we are fighting to come inside a ‘House that is on Fire’. But, certainly not the ‘spiritual fire’ out of which Paul confesses his ‘spiritual service’.
I can’t help but see the “Post Pandemic Church” in watered down motion. I see that the State’s mandate to close the Church has rendered it helpless is effecting change needed in a very unstable, yea schizophrenic State of the Union; incapable of crossing it’s unchecked earthly and now sinful and even cynical powers of (in)justice. Is there a REAL and TRUE and LIVING “Word from The Lord?”
With all of the deliberate and calculated historical misuses of Paul’s teachings, here lies a pearl. As a ‘spiritual servant’ he is fervent and passionate in his prayer to be able to speak, to break forth with a word that is able to change the understanding of the ‘spiritual gifts’ given the Christian when he has a ‘pray without ceasing’ truth validity quality to his life.
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