First, thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world» (Romans 1:8).
The apostle Paul’s Epistle to the Romans has as a special opening. The apostle begins his message by expressing his gratitude to the believers who lived in Rome, and the main reason was focused on the fact that his faith «[was] spoken of throughout the whole world.» Even though the Bible does not say much about the specific way in which the Christians were spreading the message, we can assume that they spontaneously showed their love to others.
For a long time, Paul had wanted to visit Rome since he had his eyes set on Italy and Spain which were new and wider fields of service. Finally, after having encountered several difficulties, he disembarked at the Italian harbor of Puteoli Pozzuoli, Naples), 220 km away from Rome. His arrival was very different from what he imagined. He came as a well-guarded prisoner to be presented before Caesar. Would they receive the prisoner with joy or would they be ashamed of him? What influence would he have as a disgraced prisoner? Would he have the opportunity to serve God despite his chains?
The apostle had been severely socially disfavored because of his beliefs that were contrary to the established cultural rules. When a person is stigmatized this way, most people become hostile and indifferent. Fortunate, in Puteoli, Paul was welcomed so affectionately that they managed to let him stay for a whole week. Then Paul set out on a journey to the capital of the Empire. Long before arriving in Rome, some 60 km away from the city, the anxious Romans came out to welcome him. This filled the apostle’s heart with gratitude and gave him the courage to continue his missionary service. In light of this display of love and appreciation, in the Epistle to the Romans, Paul wrote them, «I myself am confident concerning you . . . that you also are full of goodness» (Rom.15:14).
Expressing appreciation toward a stigmatized or humble person is an example of compassionate love—a love that can be recognized as a universal language. «Those minister who receive the suffering, who help the needy, who comfort the sorrowing » and who tell the sinner of Christ’s pardoning love. These are Christ’s witnesses. Story of Jesus, ch. 28, p. 166). If we act like the Romans did, we will be able to cross any border. Thus, God’s message of love will be spread throughout the world.