Romans 1:10b— ‘I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.’
Do you hear Paul speaking to the church in Rome and telling them that he prays to be able to see the church, to see fellow church members face to face? That that’s his desire, and that he knows that that is God’s will for us. And yet, that left to our own devices, we would never desire such a thing. In fact, our natural state is the exact opposite. That we are satisfied never to see each other face to face, satisfied not to have contact with fellow humans; to be selfish in the way that we engage ourselves, and to never refresh or be refreshed by someone else’s company, to never know joy in being with other people.
In fact, to have as our rule of engagement that we hate people; that the very words ‘face to face’ would fill us with dread, and that our dividing with others would be something we love to do; that the thought of being united with someone else’s thoughts—the idea of thinking the same as someone else—is by nature anathema to us; we should be ashamed of that…
But that is where we naturally want to go, to the place of “no unity”, to the place of “no concern for another human”, to the place of callousness when it comes to others’ suffering, to the place of no fellowship, to the place of never meeting together. That the main gift displayed in us seems to be “the gift of discouragement” because of our capacity to tear others down. And that the practice of storing up for ourselves treasures on earth, and the practice of never sharing with people who are in need; and the hatred for hospitality, and for having others in our precious homes would be where we’d be happy stay were God not to intervene.
That is where we are at, and it should break us, it should pierce us to the heart, that that is where we’re at by nature.
And yet, the good news is that the Lord Jesus Christ has come, and has been pierced instead of his inhospitable people. And so, the only right response is to repent of our disunity and to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for salvation. The Lord Jesus promises never to turn anyone away who comes to him. (John 6:37)