SAVE ME FROM THE BULLIES
I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf, that I may be delivered from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company. May the God of peace be with you all.”
Social Suffering – FEAR OF PERSECUTION
Even though we may put this prayer in the category of Simple1 Pauls situation is anything but simple.
Have you ever had someone who was out to get you? A bully who would not let you alone? Perhaps someone who wanted to ruin your reputation and all that you stood for? It’s a horrible feeling. I know. It happened to me. I had a boss who was out to get me. . . I mean ruin my reputation, see to it I would get fired, and keep me from getting my top secret clearance. As you can tell we were still in the Air Force. Chris was the head Protestant chaplain on the small base. It was awful. There were some very strong Christian women who began praying with me and for me. God delivered me, got me a wonderful new job and my reputation was intact. No one believed her lies. Oh yes, I got my top secret clearance, too.
Paul is suffering from very similar problems. He has a group of people in his home town/state (Jerusalem) that are out to get him. These people were Jews who did not accept or believe in Jesus. They were violent in their hatred if the new Christian religion. What’s worse Paul used to be one of them. Many of these people were x-friends that had known Paul since childhood.
Do you see Paul’s fear in these verses? Do you see his desperation? The word “strive” means to struggle fervently together with someone (in the original Greek language). He is begging his friends in Rome to struggle with him in prayer. Have you ever thought of prayer as a struggle? When I was a kid, my parents used to talk about “praying through.” They meant by that to pray until you get peace about it. But Paul doesn’t want them to just pray until they feel good about the situation, he wants them to continually pray until they get a breakthrough, results, a change, deliverance.
In his suffering Paul is very, very bold in asking for prayer. I have been in many churches and known many people that do not want their troubles put on on prayer list. They have many excuses for this: there is a gossip on the prayer chain, they want to protect their privacy, and on and on. I have to tell you, I have little sympathy for them. Prayer is bringing God into your situation or someone else’s situation. Paul understood this. He wanted the presence and power of almighty God to come into his situation. He is utterly fearless in asking for his Christian friends in Rome to pray daily, constantly and fearlessly before God. Where does this fearlessness come from?
Fearlessness comes from knowing just how utterly and totally powerful our Lord Jesus Christ is. He begs them to pray in the power of Jesus and something else. . . “in the LOVE2 of the Spirit.” Paul’s religion, this new religion called Christianity, is LOVE based not based on rules, practices, condemnation, or judging people. In his suffering Paul does not revert back to his earlier hatred based attitudes. He begs his friends to help him act according to “the love in the Spirit.”
Finally he gives them his prayer list:
1) Deliverance from his enemies
2) His reputation with his superiors in Jerusalem be safe
3) Be able to come and see his friends in Rome
4) That the God of peace would be with them
It is easy to slip into fear based attitudes that leads to hate, prejudice, and overreaction. Paul shows us that Christianity must be LOVE based even toward our worst enemies. This LOVE comes from God. We are just humans, not capable of loving the members of ISIS terrorist or people we know who are troublesome in our lives. This LOVE is only possible through the Spirit of Jesus who comes to live inside us we accept Him into our lives. It is divine LOVE and it is selfless.
Now we can see the transformation from a violent religious fanatic to a man whose strongest desire is to LOVE people who hate him. This did not happen in a day. It will not happen magically over night with us either. Only by constantly allowing the God of LOVE to take over our lives is this possible. But how? How do we do this? What do we say? 1 John 1:9 is a good start. . .
“. . .if we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—he won’t let us down; he’ll be true to himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing.”
That’s what Paul did. He admitted to God that his old way of life, of thinking, actin, and talking were not in sync with a God of LOVE. Everyday we must do this, admit to God that my thoughts, words and actions do not measure up to God. . .that in fact I am wrong. The I ask God to fill me with His LOVE and transform me. The beginning of transformation has begun.
If thus has helped you, or if you have questions or comments please use the box below and I will contact you.
1 Categories of Prayer
1) Simple things: like the desire to go see people he loves, bringing his cloak, and for people to get along with each other.
2) Relationship with God: Straying from God, getting closer to God, tools to have a better relationship with God, and evangelism – people coming to know God through Jesus
3) Abstract things: Internal mental and spiritual things such as being happy in hope, being patient in tribulation and constant in prayer.
4) Big picture: Paul prays for us to get the big picture. This is a top down view from God’s viewpoint, eternity.
I use all caps when referring to divine LOVE which is radically different than human love. Philippians 2
2 LOVE in all caps designates God’s totally selfless LOVE
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