This, near the end of Paul’s letter to the Romans, lays out Paul’s plan to travel to Spain (the barbarian corner of the world) with the message of Christ. Of course, in order to do so, Paul requests to be “sent off” by the Christians in Rome, meaning they would support him with money, people to translate, and prayer.
Money. It is not a four-letter word, although some would think it might as well be. You’ve heard it said, “The lack of money is the root of all evil.” ~Mark Twain. Money, the lack of money, or the pursuit of money can make people do unthinkable things. But I would argue that it is the human factor that is the problem, not the money itself.
I’ll never forget early in my ministry as a parish pastor, several people asked me, “So, what do you do the rest of the week?” As if ministry was a Sunday-only affair. Their question also spoke to the question of getting paid to do ministry. Some would argue that all Christians are called to do ministry, so why should the pastor get paid to do so? Paul didn’t shy away from the topic. In fact, Paul was quite adamant (as was Jesus) that all people should be compensated for work they perform in a way that sustains all of humankind. Paul knew that money was a necessary resource for bringing God’s word even to the barbaric corners of the world.
Money is not evil. Money is a tool. Money is an outward expression of what we contribute to society. Certainly, the inequity of the distribution of money is hugely problematic in our world, as it always was and will likely always be. In our little corner of the world, how will we use this tool to further the work of Christ in God’s kingdom? (Oh, and pay your pastor. More. They give far more of themselves to the church than you will ever know.)
This is the reason that I have so often been hindered from coming to you. But now, with no further place for me in these regions, I desire, as I have for many years, to come to you when I go to Spain. For I do hope to see you on my journey and to be sent on by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a little while. At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem in a ministry to the saints; for Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to share their resources with the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. They were pleased to do this, and indeed they owe it to them; for if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material things. So, when I have completed this, and have delivered to them what has been collected, I will set out by way of you to Spain; and I know that when I come to you, I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ.
I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in earnest prayer to God on my behalf, that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea, and that my ministry to 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. The God of peace be with all of you. Amen.