Romans 10 contains a variety of gems, including some scintillating comments on preaching. Since I'm a preacher, here is some reflections on comments that cut close to my heart.
Paul is working through the implications of his own preaching ministry. It is key to recall one of the major purposes of this letter: to raise funds and friends for his ardous missionary adventure into the Iberian Peninsula. Basically Romans is a classic missions support letter which always request two things: Prayer (it must always be stated first and identified as the most important kind of support...) and Money (the second thing listed, which is the real purpose of the letter, but is piously positioned as second to prayer...). Paul needs the Roman church to finance his ministry, to be a homebase from which to launch an ambitious missionwork. And here in this part of the letter about preaching, he is reminding them of how they came to faith/trust in Jesus - through preaching: which is what Paul wants to do in Iberia. The Spaniards have yet to hear the Gospel, and how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
Paul has an interesting play on ideas: he is an apostle - the title means "sent one", he writes this, "...how can anyone preach unless they are sent?" He is inviting the Roman house churches to unite together (another purpose of this letter) and help the famous, formidable, fascinating Paul live out his calling as an apostle/sent one. He really can't go unless they pony up the resources.
Which then helps me think through my place as a preacher in my community of beleivers. Paul was preaching the Gospel, a missional task to bring News to a people who knew nothing, or the wrong stuff about God and His Creation. Paul wants to introduce these people to Jesus, who is the Way to the Father and Creator. And preaching is key. So when I preach, who is it to? What is it for? To comfort and aid those who already trust? Rather, it is to connect those who have not yet heard or understood the Gospel with Jesus. And, it is to help the Born Again Trusters to help others connect as well.
Paul quotes Isaiah in describing the work of a preacher: "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring Good News." Being a preacher is a full-time ministry. All of life goes into a message. In fact, often my life is the message. But I'm not the only preacher in my community of trusters. Everyone is preaching something about Jesus. My responsibility, as the lead preacher, is to help each of my fellow trusters preach what is beautiful and good about the News of God and his Redemption of All Things.
May our feet become more beautiful as more and more trusters join us on the Way...