Paul’s list of names that IS Rom. chapter 16 seems to be on par with the more famous Heb. 11, another list of faithfulness. But while Heb. 11 is a list of familiar characters (from Abraham and David to the apostles themselves), this is a list of names virtually unknown to the modern church. Besides Phoebe, Pricilla and Aquilla, these are anonymous saints.
Take a look at our anonymous list here. Names of Greeks and Jews, people named after Roman emperors and Greek gods, good Jewish names like Mary and deeply non-Jewish names like Hermes populate this list. This is the church of the New Testament, diverse and faithful.
At my last church, we celebrated an anniversary and our tagline for the year was, “Not just for Swedes anymore.” Some laugh, some grumble, and some take pride in the -son, -quist, – berg, and -strom names in our church and throughout the Covenant, but at 33% ethnic and growing, we as a denomination are also becoming more diverse and faithful.
I like the idea of “anonymous saints”. Isn’t this the Gospel’s call, to put others above yourself, to serve without comment or pride, to be an anonymous saint? And this too is counter-cultural in a Facebook world where everyone wants to be seen, heard, and famous. It is the mega-church pastors who speak at conferences (take the Global Leadership Summit for example, and you’ll find only the big names, though there are even more effective leaders in smaller businesses and churches.)
So today, can you value diversity and faithfulness among God’s people? Can you hold your tongue when the chance arises to put out your name? Can you consciously work to be an Anonymous Saint?