The last chapter of Romans is like the credits at the end of a movie. I don’t sit through the credits. I usually make it to about verse 4, then I start skimming, but Paul names over thirty people by the end of this chapter. My son-in-law, Staphon, works at Pixar. There is a theater at Pixar and he got me in to see a movie before it was released. As the movie wound to what I thought was the end, I started to get up, but Staphon grabbed my arm and sat me down. The important part was just beginning, the credits. The theater was packed with Pixar people and the names of their friends and co-workers were beginning to roll. We sat to the very end.
Lest we think Paul is merely writing a treatise on theology, building this great religion called Christianity, this last chapter grounds us in reality and reminds us what is really important. This is about real people who live in real community with each other and follow a very real Savior, Jesus Christ. I go to church and I know the names of all sixty-six books of the Bible. God would be happier if I knew the name of the person sitting next to me. Paul knows who these people are and what they have done. He knows their role in the church and their service to God. Paul does not see the church as an organized religion, but as a community of people saved by Jesus Christ and in love with one another. Paul knows their names, and so does God. Every last one of them.
Father, I love You and worship You. And You love me. You love people. God, help me love better what You love most.
Change my heart, God, and teach me to love well, to serve all, to follow the example of Your Son and live a life of compassion, to sacrifice my life for the sake of others.