According to Romans 1, the first reason to be engaged in mission is because our Lord Jesus Christ is the Lord of lords and the King of kings of all the universe. But there is another reason for Paul and for us to be global Christians. The church in Rome was far from a perfect church. There were lots of problems, as there are in any church—mine included, and yours too. There were problems of integration between Jews and gentiles. There were conflicts between the groups over a number of issues. Some were strong in the faith; others were weak. Some had strong opinions on certain days and practices and food, and others saw things differently.
Paul is not silent on the problems, and he addresses them in truth and love. And yet, he says the faith of the Romans was being reported all over the world (1:8). There was an echo, there was an aroma, there was spreading news about what they believed and how they lived what they believed. Similarly, writing to the Colossian church, Paul says, “The gospel is bearing fruit and growing in the whole world” (Col. 1:4).
A Faith to be Shared
Our faith is not a private matter. The light cannot be hidden under a basket (Matt. 5:15). The gospel cannot be hidden and stopped from shining forth. It bears fruit, and this growth spreads throughout the world. The nature of our faith is to be a public faith, a contagious faith, a faith that needs to be shared, witnessed to, and shared with others so that it becomes known around us. It is to be a faith that goes forth everywhere. Paul is not only interested in his own security and welfare, but he wants to see the fruits of the gospel everywhere. Near and far away, locally and globally, in Rome—wherever we are, all over the world.
All Christians can report to their neighbors and to brothers and sisters what God is doing in our corner of the world and listen to what the same God is doing elsewhere. In this way, the faith can be shared around us. We don’t need to be skilled influencers on social media to be part of this chain of transmission. We don’t need to belong to a “perfect” church in order to speak out. The church of Rome was far from perfect, and yet Paul writes that their faith was being reported everywhere. The Christian faith needs to be proclaimed from pulpits by God-fearing preachers of the Word but also to be whispered by all of us in conversations among friends.
This is true Christianity—making known the gospel of Jesus Christ and its impact on people’s lives all over the world. True Christianity is a missionary faith that professes the universal lordship of Christ and that saturates the world with the aroma of the gospel.