Till We Meet Again

Romans 1:7-12 ESV

To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. 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.

The Global Crisis

I live in the USA, so the news that I get is whatever is reported in the US, primarily, but I also have access to some other news sites that give news from other countries, too. But, it is difficult to know if what I am reading is the truth or not, so I pray for discernment.

But, I said that to say that I presume from the news I am receiving that what we are going through in the USA is a global situation, so it impacts you, too, wherever you are.

But, I also realize that we are not all in the same situation as one another. I recognize that many of you have it far worse than we do, so I am not assuming we are all in exactly the same situation. But, I believe that eventually we are all going to be in much the same situation, although I don’t know how soon, for I believe that is the global plan, and it is what the Scriptures tell us is going to take place.

But, where we are in the USA right now is this, from what I understand it to be. Most all of us are under some kind of house arrest, you might call it, although most of us are able to go out for essentials like food, and we are allowed to go outside for exercise as long as we stay 6’ away from other people.

In some areas of the country the restrictions are stricter, and in other areas they are more lenient, but basically we all now have to stay home, and thus most of our contact with others is via the internet.

Encourage One Another

So, when I read Paul’s words here, about how he was longing to see his brothers and sisters in Christ in person, I immediately connected with his words on a level I have never before. For, in my lifetime, which is 70 years, I have never lived through a time where our nation has been on a type of lockdown to where we are not permitted to gather together in person except in very small numbers, and unless we maintain 6’ distance apart.

In the USA, most of us have been used to having a lot of freedom of movement, so this is a big change for most of us. And, this isn’t just impacting our ability to gather together with one another in person, but it is impacting our economy, as well, as many people are now out of work, and businesses are shutting down, etc. And, I don’t believe that things are going to ever go back to what they were before. So, I think life for us in America is going to change from this point forward from what we were used to.

So, I empathize with Paul’s words here, as I am sure that many Christians across America can, as well, as most of us are now not allowed to gather together in person unless it is in very small numbers. So, we can’t see each other in person. And, thus we are longing to be together once again, face to face, and not just on the internet.

But, Paul’s longing to be in person with his brothers and sisters in Christ did not stem from selfish motives. First of all, he was praying for them every day. And, his purpose in wanting to be with them was that he might encourage them and strengthen them in the Lord, through the ministry of spiritual gifts. But, it was also that they might encourage one another in their walks of faith, for I am sure Satan was fighting against them, as he is against us, too.

But, you know, for as long as we are still able to talk about Jesus on the internet, which won’t be forever, this is a great opportunity right now, in our present circumstances, to consider many ways in which we might encourage and help strengthen one another in our walks of faith, via using the spiritual gifts God has given to each one of us who are his (Rom. 12; 1 Co. 12-14; Eph. 4-5).

We need to not only be praying for one another, but we need to be sharing with one another psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, and the Scriptures, and poems and writings and speaking which will help us to walk in holiness and in purity of devotion to Jesus Christ, and which will lead others to the obedience of faith in Jesus Christ, as Paul did in his ministry. For, this is what we need, especially at this time.

Romans 1:13-15 ESV

I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.

I think we can identify with Paul’s words here, too, for we are not social distancing because we don’t want to be with other people. We are social distancing because we are obeying the governing authorities over us. And, thus we are being prevented from being able to gather together with our brothers and sisters in Christ, in person, except under certain rules.

But, again, Paul’s desire to be with his brothers and sisters in Christ was not from selfish motives, or for his own pleasure and enjoyment. But, his desire was from pure motives and a desire to help his fellow believers in Jesus to grow in their faith and in their understanding of what it means to be followers of Jesus, for their benefit, and for their spiritual growth and maturity. For, the gospel isn’t just about how to “get saved,” but it is about what it means to be saved, in lifestyle, in our walks of faith with Jesus.

But, his desire, too, was to share the gospel with those who were not believers in Jesus Christ, too, that they might be saved.

So, as we gather together on the internet, for now, and as we contemplate what it will be like if and when we get the freedom to gather together again in person, we should consider Paul’s words here, and his motivations for why he wanted to see his fellow Christians in person, and we should do likewise.

We should consider our interactions with one another as opportunities to encourage each other to walk closely to the Lord and not as occasions for us to just hang out and to have a good time, like we are no different than the world.

Romans 1:16-17 ESV

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Lastly, I have been to too many gatherings of people who call themselves Christians where the name of Jesus isn’t even mentioned, and the Scriptures are never discussed, and no one seems interested in talking about the Lord or encouraging one another in our walks of faith. But, the conversations were no different than conversations within a gathering of non-Christians.

So, I would like to encourage us all today, in this time when we can’t get together in person with our family, friends, neighbors and fellow Christians, to evaluate why we want to gather with other believers, and if our motives are like Paul’s, or if our gatherings generally are more reflective of gatherings of people who make no profession of faith in Jesus Christ.

For, God didn’t put us on this planet for ourselves. He put us here for his glory, and for his purposes, and that we might be his light to the world to share with them the gospel of our salvation, and to help them to grow in their walks of faith to maturity in Jesus Christ, our Lord.

We, as followers of Jesus, shouldn’t be embarrassed to talk about Jesus and his Word and to encourage one another in the faith. And, yet many gatherings of Christians are just like that. And, if you try to initiate something, you might be treated like you are weird, even from your brothers and sisters in Christ. Or, you might just be ignored.

But, don’t let that discourage you. We need to be more like Paul and not so much like the average American Christian. And, we need to encourage one another in our walks of faith so we are not hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

God Be with You till We Meet Again

Jeremiah E. Rankin, William G. Tomer

God be with you till we meet again;
by his counsels guide, uphold you,
with his sheep securely fold you;
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again;
neath his wings securely hide you,
daily manna still provide you;
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again;
when life’s perils thick confound you,
put his arms unfailing round you;
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again;
keep love’s banner floating o’er you,
smite death’s threatening wave before you;
God be with you till we meet again.

Till we meet, till we meet,
till we meet at Jesus’ feet;
till we meet, till we meet,
God be with you till we meet again.

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7 thoughts on “Till We Meet Again

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