Romans 16:17-20: Warning to Troublemakers
In this political season in the U.S., Paul’s words are worthy of our reflection time.
Keep a sharp eye out for those who take bits and pieces of the teaching that you learned and then use them to make trouble. Give these people a wide berth. They have no intention of living for our Master Christ. They’re only in this for what they can get out of it, and aren’t above using pious sweet talk to dupe unsuspecting innocents.
Paul’s letter to the Romans holds this little paragraph: a warning to the brethren who cause dissention and scandal contrary to the doctrine they have learned. Commentary suggests that Paul’s intent is to inoculate the growing community against the formation of factions that might lead to the fragmentation of the church. In 1 Chronicles 28:20 David says to his son Solomon: Take charge! Take heart! Don’t be anxious or get discouraged. God, my God, is with you in this; God won’t walk off and leave you in the lurch. God’s at your side until every last detail is completed for conducting the worship of God.
And how do we worship the Lord? When do we gather to give thanks to God?
We hear that we must go about our work without fear of any kind.
We understand that our kingdom work is more important than any other.
We demonstrate our belief that God is with us always when we put aside the fear-mongering and scandal-peddling of troublemakers.
John shares Jesus’ words with us: These things I have spoken to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
When we set ourselves to doing God’s work, we have no reason for apprehension or anxiety.
In both the Old and New Testaments, we see God’s yardstick in our world. Paul, David and Jesus offer us a clear image and method of measuring God’s presence and love in our lives.
Adapted from a reflection written on April 27, 2008.