It seems strange that in the very same Book of Romans Paul would both say to “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law” and “I am in debt to all people” (Romans 13:8; 1:14). How do feel about debt? I don’t like being in debt to another person and would love to declare that I am debt free. But there is a debt that every Christian has that will never be paid in full.
In Romans 1:14-17 Paul wrote these words, “I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘the righteous shall live by faith.”
Like Paul, you and I as Christians are in debt or under obligation. Someone in our life took an interest in us and in our having the opportunity to know Christ and have our sins forgiven. We all sin and fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). “For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of me, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth” (Romans 1:18). Since we are all guilty of sin and God’s wrath is against all sin we are in deep trouble on our own. Yet, someone cared enough for us to tell us about God’s grace. Someone shared with us the gospel or good news of Jesus so we could be saved. We didn’t deserve it. If we received what we deserved we would all be lost forever. The faith God freely offered us salvation that we do not deserve through Jesus and that someone cared enough to tell us what he did, makes us debtors both to Jesus and other people for all our spiritual lives. We owe it to all people that we know to share with them the good news of Jesus so that they have the opportunity to be saved like we are.
Because we are saved by God, God has sent us on a mission. He sends us as ambassadors to the world we live in to represent Him and His cause in the world. As an ambassador of Christ, I’m not a citizen of this world. Instead God’s plan for every Christian is that we would be strangers, sojourners and exiles in this world. Too often we go way too far in our life on earth and become far too much at home here and now and lose sight of our purpose from God. As an ambassador for Christ I am to live in the world as one representing God and heaven, not this world or even this country. When we become too at home on this earth it leads to lots of worry and fret over what is happening around us. But if we keep in mind that we are on a mission from God to be his ambassadors to represent Him and heaven on the earth it changes our entire view of life.
Paul said the result for him was that as much as was in him he was ready to share the good news of Jesus to all people. Over in I Corinthians 9 he described what was involved in that whole mission. “Though I am free from all people, I’ve made myself the servant of all that I might gain the more. To the Jew I became a Jew that I might win the Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the Law (though not being myself under the law) that I might gain those under the law. To those without law, (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) I became as one without law that I might gain those without the law. To the weak I became weak that I might win the weak. I’ve become all things to all people that I might by all means save some.”
Too often we become so engrossed in this world and this life we aren’t even willing to reach out with the gospel to a Democrat if we are Republican or to a Republican if we are Democrats. All such silliness makes the devil in hell jump up and down with joy and it breaks the heart of God and Jesus who died for us. No matter who it is, whether fellow Americans, immigrants or aliens I am to be on a mission to share with them the good news of Jesus because the gospel is God’s power for salvation to all who believe, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. We must never forget our debt and never forget our mission.
Imagine an ambassador from this country going to Russia to represent this nation and when they get there they forget all about their mission and become engrossed in the social life of the Russians. They become so much like the Russians that no one would ever realize that they are ambassadors for the United States. What good would they be as ambassadors? About the same amount of good as that Christian who gets so engrossed in life as a citizen of the United States that they forget their mission from God to share the gospel with all people.
Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to pay your debt by sharing the gospel of Jesus with the people you are around every day. If you fail in the mission, many who depended on you will be lost forever.