by Mark Nienow
Read Romans 15:1-7.
What do we learn about community together as the church? What are a few of the purposes of it mentioned here?
On the first question here, one of the things we learn is that it isn’t all just about us… so many kids and adults have a consumer mentality when it comes to being a part of the church… “I want to go where they have the best music, the coolest leader, the most entertaining youth group, etc…” This is a chance to get students to consider that it may not be all about them, but rather what they can offer to bless others. Verses 1 and 2 are a transition from chapter 14 so they may be a review of sorts.
We begin to see the purposes of community in these verses. Some that could be highlighted are pleasing our neighbor for his good, learning the scriptures together, worshiping together and welcoming one another.
What is said about the source of hope?
(Endurance and Encouragement of the Scriptures- Rom. 8:4). Endurance isn’t often thought of as ending in hope, but with the eternal perspective of Scripture, it does bring hope. In verse 5, God is described as the “God of Endurance” and earlier in Romans 5:3 Paul writes this “Rom. 5:3 Not only that, but we frejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering gproduces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,” Endurance means there is something happening that we must endure… something difficult. Jesus endured much of the sinful world and so he knows what it is to endure. Knowing that God is the God of Endurance gives us hope that we are not alone and that there is more to come than whatever it is we are enduring.
This is also a great time to talk about the encouragement of the scriptures… think of a time you were particularly encouraged through the Scriptures and share it. See if any of your students have a story to share as well.
Next, read Romans 15:8-13. In this section, Paul quotes the Old Testament four times. One of the passages Paul quotes is Isaiah 11:10. Read Isaiah 11:1-10. Who is the promised “root of Jesse” who will come? Who does he come for? How does this inspire hope?
Jesus is the “root of Jesse” and comes for all… in ESV for Isaiah 11:10 it says he is a “signal for the peoples” and that “the nations” will inquire of him. The “resting place” refers to the eternal perspective that Jesus opens the door to heaven. Note that much of the Isaiah passage refers to the eternal peace to come. If there are questions as to whether this is truly about Jesus, look at the connection between Isaiah 11:2 and Matthew 3:16. Hope comes from knowing that this life is not all there is and that Jesus has made a way for us to have eternal life in him.
Reread Romans 8:13. Where do people look for joy and peace and hope in our world? How is it found in believing in Jesus? How can a community of believers be a place of hope and joy and peace? What are some examples of this in your youth group? In your church?
Lots of possible answers to the first question here… the joy and peace in believing is another good opportunity for sharing testimony so it is more than just theoretical. The last questions give an opportunity for students to think about how this plays out right where they are.
Read Romans 15:14-32. What purposes for the community of believers are mentioned here?
Answers include: Tell others about Jesus together (also a good opportunity to introduce the idea of missionary support.) Note that Paul was never alone in his travels and teaching, he had many others with him … (Silas, Timothy, Barnanas, Mark, etc… see Acts for this). (Romans 15: 16-21)
Enjoy each other’s company (Romans 15:24)
Help the needy (Romans 15:25-28)
Pray for and with each other (Romans 15:30-31)
Be encouraged and refreshed in following Jesus (Romans 15:32)