Going to the ends of the Earth
After an eventful journey, including a shipwreck, Paul finally arrived in Rome – the capital city of the Empire. Details of what happened then are in doubt. It had been his ambition to travel right through to Spain but whether or not this was fulfilled we have no real idea. The last we hear of him is under house arrest in Rome right at the end of the book of Acts.
vv 14-15 For I have a great sense of obligation to people in both the civilized world and the rest of the world, to the educated and uneducated alike. So I am eager to come to you in Rome, too, to preach the Good News.
For Paul, and for many of us too, this is where Mission begins. As an old saying goes ‘We are beggars who have found food, and have a sense of obligation to tell others about it.’ This great sense of obligation Paul felt extended to all kinds of people all over the world. Here was a man who would not rest until the good news was spread world-wide to every human condition. It was a driving, motivating, inspiring desire to spread good news to all.
This call to mission is not an optional extra for a few highly gifted or motivated believers. It is at the very heart of the Christian life. This does not mean that we all engage in it in the same way. Paul’s way of life is not a pattern that is designed to fit us all – indeed it fits very few people. Itinerant preachers criss-crossing the world is not God’s norm for mission. If I tried to sum up the pattern that does fit us all it would be in these words:
SHOW SPEAK SUPPORT.
SHOW – It is possible for each of us to live the kind of life that demonstrates faith, love, justice, kindness and generosity, and so beautifies and verifies the good news that we can go on to share.
SPEAK – There can be no getting away from the fact that the good news needs to be articulated. This need not be preaching of any kind but
simply a word of explanation about why we follow Jesus.
SUPPORT – When we are engaged in mission together we can encourage and support each other by prayer, giving time and material resources in a way that will carry mission work forward.
Make no mistake however, whether you feel it or not, all of us have some obligation to make the good news known locally and across the globe.