Romans 1:1-15                  “So Eager”


            Easter was last Sunday, and I preached about an idea that I wanted to expand upon this morning. You may recall that I said that on Easter morning that the bible does not merely tell us that Jesus was biologically viable again, but that he had a life given to Him by God that was full of divine purpose and spirit. He was not just alive; He was ALIVE.

            Somebody asked me this last week if now we are in “Regular time” in the Church. That is a highly liturgical question. Do we now switch to the color green on the paraments? Nope, we are not in regular time. It may feel regular, but we are actually still in Easter. Today is the second Sunday of Easter. Jesus is still ALIVE. And, so are we.

            Do you know what the greatest theological question ever asked was? “Why did I get up this morning?” It is an honest extrapolation of why Jesus got up on Easter morning. Did you ever wonder why Easter happened in the morning and not at 5pm when most of the working class feel their real day begins? How does Jesus’ purpose at Easter become my purpose?

Last decade, the famous Pastor of Saddleback Christian Church in Mission Viejo California Rick Warren wrote the book “The Purpose Driven Church.” For some it was a real eye-opener. The church actually has a purpose? Wow! That book was followed up with the “purpose driven youth group,” “the purpose driven this or that,” “the purpose driven life.”   


            Why did Paul write all these letters out to the early churches?  His life was purpose driven. He knew why he got up in the morning. Look at verses 14-5. Our bibles say that Paul was “eager to proclaim.” I could not believe that when I read it. Some bibles just say that Paul was merely “willing” to proclaim or even just “ready” to proclaim. The Greek word here is προθυμος “prothumos,” which means impassioned, highly inspired, or even “set on fire.” Also, the word “proclaim” is really the word “evangelize.” So, Paul got in the morning with an eagerness to share the good news of Christ.

            Did you all just notice something that rarely happens in my preaching? I actually agreed with the translation and think it is a good one in our pew Bibles. Mark this day! προθυμος means that the spirit is dragging me forward. Pro means forward. Themos means inner spirit. Paul gets up out of bed in the morning because the spirit is waking him up and tugging at him!

            At the youth camp last month up at Kokee someone at 4am shone her flashlight right in my face. I was startled and asked “What is wrong?” “Nothing wrong, I just need to go to the bathroom and wondered if you were asleep.” “I was.” So, our scripture this morning is shining the light in our eyes about the needs of others.


            It crossed my mind that I do not get up in the morning because of me. I get up in the morning because of God and the purpose that God has for my life. I get up in the morning because I am eager to serve God.

Thomas Fuller once wrote that, “serving one’s own passions is the greatest form of slavery.” (Gnomologia, 1732).  I look at the start of this letter where Paul says that he is a what? A SLAVE to Jesus Christ.  You have to look at the footnote that says that although the word “servant” is written, the actual word here is δουλος, or “slave.” Paul is not literally enslaved to Jesus. He is not in iron chains; yet, his passion for sharing the good news has enslaved him to the Lord. That is to say, in his own life, he has no choice in what he is doing. The passion has taken over. The Spirit is leading his life. He has no more control over his life than does a slave have in being commanded by his master.

            I have been asked at times why I chose to become a Christian. I always like to respond with, “You mean I had a choice in the matter?” The bible tells me to believe. Jesus commands me to believe. The Spirit enforces me to believe. My heart is on fire in faith. What choice do I have in the matter?  It is not just that I might choose to believe, I am commanded to do so. We all are!  After all, does a fire choose to burn? Or is it lit by another hand? What choice does a fire have?!


            This last week I have been asking various people what is their passion in their lives. One person responded, “Hmmmm, sometimes I wake up in the morning and ask that same question. What am I going to do that makes it worth my even getting up in the morning at all?” I was thinking about that response a lot this last week.

            Someone stopped me on the street on Wednesday asking me for prayer for her brother who is ill. It struck me that obviously the person who is stricken wakes up in the morning wanting earnestly to have the pain released and to have healing in his or her life. There would be no asking that question of “Why do I get up in the morning?” That person would rise up out of bed with the hope of healing.  Amen to that!

            Then, it came to me through the Spirit that there are billions of people on this planet who wake up in the morning and their only thought is where is the next bite of food going to come from. How impossible it is to talk about passion when one is just trying to survive.

            In our society, although we are certainly not starving to death on this island or in America in general, I think most of us never get to that question of what is our passion because we are in a kind of survival mode. Maybe a person is out of work and the unemployment benefits are running out. Where is the passion in that?

            What an incredible blessing it is—therefore—for someone to be able to get up in the morning and even ask the question “Why do I get up in the morning?” That means that the Lord has blessed that person’s life with the ability to be impassioned. They can see past just existing in survival mode! They have enough room in their life to let the Spirit do greater miracles through them! That person can ask the greater question when getting up in the morning: “Lord, how is your Spirit going to work a miracle of grace through my life today?”

            That must have been what it was like for Adam and Eve before the Fall. They must have awakened with the passion in their hearts that God was going to do more miracles each day. They were blessed and cared for. If you have felt that same blessing in your life, then you should also awake with that passion!

            Why was Mary Magdalene at the tomb of Christ so early on Easter Morning? What got her up? She was going to be a part of the miracle of Easter! She was going to see the living Christ, the miracle of redemption! That should be the reason we get up. We want to see Christ! WE remember the story of Paul, how Christ came to him on the road to Damascus. We realize that Jesus can come to us in any moment and bless our lives to a new direction. We have the journey ahead of us.

            God has given you relatively good health and living circumstances for a reason. God needs you to do more than just work out your survival. God needs you to be on fire about the Spiritual matters of this world.

            This question has been asked again and again by non-believers: “Why do Christians send out missionaries to feed the hungry in Asia and Africa?” The answer is simple. You cannot tell a starving child about the abundant grace of God when all he or she is thinking about is a getting a bowl of rice. Give the bowl of rice so that the greater miracle can take place and the Spirit can be made manifest in that person’s life.


            Verse 11 of our scripture for today says, “I want to bring you a gift.” Paul’s passion that he is enslaved to is in fact “gift giving.” He loves giving gifts. He loves giving it all away for others. In fact, as he writes these words to the Romans, he is talking about the fact that he is about to leave Corinth for Jerusalem to help those there who have suffered because of their faith.  As it turned out, those who had professed Jesus as Lord and Savior in that time in Jerusalem were being kicked out of the synagogues, were losing their jobs and in some cases were even being run out of their homes.

            As I just said, it is impossible to feel impassioned by the spirit if you find yourself in survival mode. So, Paul has gone to the other early churches and has taken up a collection for the martyrs of the faith in Jerusalem. Now he wants to bring this monetary gift to Jerusalem and later bring different gifts to Rome. In Rome, there were not so much in need of money but rather of learning the Scriptures and accepting the Word of God. He is writing to Gentiles in Rome who have no Jewish background.

            When we are set on fire by the Gospel, isn’t this what we want to do too? Are we not inspired to go out and give more and more to this world in need? Are we not also eager to proclaim? On fire to evangelize? We want to give this gift out to others! Normally the instinct of nature is to save one’s self. It is to build up the self, but for the Christian who follows the example of Christ’s own sacrifice our new nature is to give all of ourselves away.

            Why is that? If we do not give this gift away, then we become poorer than the ones who do not have enough to eat and live in survival mode. If we have too much bread on our plate, then we forget to trust in God to provide for us. We pray the Lord’s Prayer, “Give me this day, my daily bread,” without really relying on God to give it to us. We have bread. We have enough bread in the house and out in the freezer to last months. And, I know where I can always get more bread.

            The apostle Paul did not have to take money to the needy in Jerusalem. He could have kept it for himself. He could have taken the first class quarters on a ship to Rome and lived up there. That would have been clever. Yet, Paul knows that in order to lay his life truly into Jesus’ hands, become a slave to Christ, a true servant, and then go where the spirit pulls him. That is the reason to get up and live life eagerly!