Obligated to Preach the Gospel—Romans 1:14-15
"I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome" (Romans 1:14-15)
As a Pharisee, I’m sure Paul felt obligated to give instructions on how to live. In fact, the Pharisees of his day were known for heaping lots of extras onto the Jewish Law. So much so, the people stood no chance of keeping the Law. Even Jesus commented on their behavior by saying, “You nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down” (Mark 7:13a).
The gospel changes us from trying and coming up short to surrendering and gaining all
This is why I find it so amazing that after only one encounter with Jesus, Paul exclaims, “I am obligated—to people—to everyone—to preach Jesus! What a complete turnaround! Instead of insisting on rules and making the people miserable, Paul wanted everyone to know the person of Jesus Christ.
The gospel of Jesus changed Paul from someone who had every reason to be confident in his righteous actions to someone who discounted it all for the sake of Christ. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul wrote,
“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith” (Phi. 3:7-9).
This is the power the gospel has in our lives. It changes us from trying and coming up short to surrendering and gaining all.
Jesus changed Paul. Understanding the gospel also transformed his passionate nature into a force in the early Church. In the same way he previously felt obligated to uphold the law, he was then obligated to preach about Christ to everyone, especially to those at the margins.
The beautiful thing is that we, too, can let the gospel change us. No matter where we start, the gospel has the power to transform us into new creations (2 Cor. 5:17). The rest of this letter is about this wonderful discovery.
For more on the gospel, please visit: jcblog.net/gospel.
Original article published May 13, 2009.