Series: Followers of Jesus
Message: In the Community
Preacher: Jessyka Dooley
Reflection: Jessyka Dooley
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Zan Long
Live Purpose: Kyle Smith
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Romans 16:1-16 in The Message (MSG). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: Paul sends his greetings to nearly 30 people by name! Why do you think he would take up so much ink and precious paper to do so?
There’s a great episode of the TV series Friends in which one of Chandler’s coworkers calls him Toby. Chandler is too embarrassed to correct the coworker, so he just always answers to Toby whenever this guy is around. Obviously, the two aren’t close! I’m not sure about you, but I’ve experienced a handful of awkward situations where I have either called someone by the wrong name or been called the wrong name. Recently, my husband Kiefer and I were called “Joffer and Jennifer.”
Needless to say, it means something when others know you by name. It speaks to the relationship, to the value of being known. Paul knows these people; he knows them by name. He knows them by what they have done for the church and what they have done for him. Paul isn’t listing names to show off or because he just has a ton of extra time. I believe he does this purposefully. He does it to remind his readers that he knows them and appreciates them too.
Paul addressed a wide variety of people. In his commentary on Romans, John R. W. Stott states, “Alongside the Roman church’s diversity in race, rank and sex, it experienced a profound unity which transcended its differences. . . . Moreover, the list of greetings contains several indications of this fundamental unity of the people of God” (p. 397).
I wonder if we could say the same for ourselves in our own local churches or communities. Do we know the names of our neighbors, the people we sit next to on the bus or in the classroom, the parents or guardians dropping their kids off at school, the people in our churches? Do we transcend our differences?
Community is not about proximity but about personal connection. Paul laments about wanting to visit the churches in Rome, but distance doesn’t stop him from knowing them, greeting them, and affirming them. If Paul can greet from a distance, we have no excuse not to greet those right in front of us. And not only greet them but learn about their stories. Get to know them by name.
I’ve had a bad habit of forgetting names. I know that I know who a given person is, but I have had trouble recalling their name. Instead of admitting my lapse in memory, I will have multiple conversations with people and not know their name. The flaw is not so much my memory but my pride in not asking for a reminder This would give me the opportunity to practice the name and cement in my mind. I’ve learned and have started to do that now.
There is something important that happens when you call someone by name. It makes that person known. Paul takes the time to remind the Romans that they are not just “the churches of Rome” but individual people making up the church.
It’s time for us to make the effort to know people by name, to greet someone new and validate their importance to us and to God.
Recalibrate: What will it take for you to set time aside today to greet someone and hear their story?
Respond: Thank God that He knows and calls you by name. Bask in the assurance that you are known and loved by God.
Research: Read Joyce E. A. Russell’s article “Career Coach: The Power of Using a Name.”
Remember: “Let me introduce to you our sister Phoebe. She is a deacon in the church at Cenchreae. I want you to welcome her in the Lord, as is proper for one of God’s people” (Romans 16:1-2, KNT).
Jessyka Dooley has served Boulder Adventist Church since 2015 when she first arrived as a pastoral intern. After returning to Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska, where she finished her degree, Jessyka returned as a full-time associate pastor in May of 2016. She grew up in Washington State and is a graduate of Auburn Adventist Academy. Jessyka is a dual citizen of the United States and Switzerland. She married Kiefer Dooley in October of 2018.
Play a game of “Help me please.” With your little one, put a towel over their favorite toy. Ask “Where is your toy?” Pull the towel off the toy with great surprise and say “There it is!” Pretend that the toy is thanking you for pulling the towel off. Give the toy a big hug and say, “I’m so happy to help.” Repeat this with the same toy or with yourself or even with your little one. Know that when we are overwhelmed with life, together we can help each other. That’s what love does.
Romans 16:3-4 tells of two people who risked their lives to save Paul’s life. Play a game of “Stuck in the Mud.” This is a different type of tag where you risk getting tagged to help someone who is stuck in the mud get back in the game. Each person takes turns at being the tagger. Everyone else needs to run away from the tagger. If you do get tagged, you must stay on the spot you were tagged at as if you are stuck in the mud. The other players risk getting tagged by coming and setting you free from the mud by tagging you out. Priscilla and Aquilla risked their own lives to save Paul’s. I’m sure that was a lot more dangerous than a game of Stuck in the Mud.
Last Friday, I went to a coffee shop with my friends Mark and Chrissy. I was so anxious to order that I started blurting my order out over the nice barista’s voice as he said, “Hey! How are you?” I instantly saw his body language change and it was as if he was saying in his mind, “This guy doesn’t care about me.” Suddenly I stopped, put my hands flat on the counter, and said, “I’m sorry brother, what is your name? How are you?” It was like he had been jolted back to life! He smiled, told me his name, and thanked me because, he said, so many times people just “don’t care.” Are you taking time to get to know people? It is so easy to get caught up in instant gratification and to forget about people. May we always remember that the second greatest commandment is to love others. Individual people matter to Jesus and they should matter to us too.