Romans 16, Psalm 55
When Paul wrote this letter to the Romans, he had still yet to make his fateful voyage to Rome written about at the end of Acts. As Paul leaves final salutations to the Roman church by way of commanding greetings and encouragement for other saints, we understand those names represent many who brought the Gospel to Rome before Paul. Though not as famous as the apostle writing this letter, at least today, these individuals are each commended for a particular strength they have demonstrated or service they have provided. The reaching of peoples and building up of the church isn’t just for the superstars, it is also for the Phoebes, Priscillas, and Aquilas of this world not to mention those like Narcissus, Mary, Andronica, and Junia. Our history is full of people that serve like this, but with forgotten names nevertheless written in God’s great book (Revelation 21:25). For their service on the earth they may never receive due acknowledgement. Yet these are the ones who gladden the hearts of brothers and sisters, and are essential in seeing churches thrive. Also by and large it has been through the work of these forgotten ones who see maybe 3-5 bona fide converts from their personal ministry that over the centuries helped the church be so successful in her mission. As problematic as it is to put it this way, even when it comes to evangelism the math is simple. Would you rather have one person that reaches 50,000 people for Jesus or 30,000 people that each reach three? Truthfully, I would like both, but we see the importance for the church in insisting that we not rely on paid professionals, the super gifted, or even those with apostolic authority to do all the ministry. For our Lord gives gifts to all the faithful (Romans 12:3-7) who will together one day have Satan crushed under our feet (Romans 16:20) that our Lord might be forever glorified in us. So let us as one serve faithfully in ways and with gifts that the Lord has given without letting our egos, pride, or discouragement take our eyes off the prize.