The Biblical book of Romans is divided into 16 chapters. Most people only really read the first 15 chapters.
Why? Well, Paul spends almost the entire last chapter greeting his friends in the church. Romans 16 may be useful for coming up with a unique baby name or two (try “Ampliatus” for example), but beyond that there does not seem to be much there for us.
It sort of makes you wonder why it would even be included in the Bible. In fact, it makes me wonder why Paul would write about those church members to those church members. Why bother? They knew each other already, right?
Well, maybe not. Maybe they had been together for a while. Maybe they knew each other’s names and where the other person worked, but what if they really did not know each other at all? What if they had become so familiar with one another that they stopped seeing each other as blessings? What if they had stopped really seeing each other?
That seems to be the problem that Paul is trying to fix, so he ends his letter by calling out a name and then describing that person to the others. In doing so, he uses words like this; “A servant in the church… a great help to many people… fellow workers… worked very hard… been in prison with me… they are outstanding… whom I love in the Lord… tested and approved in Christ… those women who work hard in the Lord… Greet Rufus and his mother, who has been a mother to me too… brothers… saints… greet one another” (Romans 16:1-16).
Our stories of faith, love and sacrifice need to be kept alive because amazing kingdom moments are happening all the time. If we do not intentionally see them and remember them, we will certainly miss them. Paul seems intent on showing them what they have so that they remember to be thankful for one another.
The other issue is that our default is to assume that we are normal. Anyone or anything different than me is automatically abnormal, and my response to that is usually envy or judgment. Paul gives them another option.
He says, “Look around and see the good things, the different things, and be grateful for them.”
So who in your life have you been taking for granted? To whom do you owe a word of encouragement or an act of kindness? Get going and get it done! There is no time like the present.
Sometimes it is good to be re-introduced to those we know the best.