The world is an angry place…not news to any of you, I’m sure. Christians seem to be an angry people…some of you may disagree, but just read what some are saying/writing/meming (meme-ing…yep, I made up a word)…Christians are an angry bunch (and I’m not referencing righteous anger). Some seem to be more concerned with “winning” for whatever platform they have adopted…immigration, abortion, taxes, politics in general, child care, vaccines…I could get the ol’ word count up high by just keeping the list going.
We, who claim to know the perfect love of God…need to reflect it better to the unbelieving world. Screeched truth doesn’t do much…truth, and love lived out as Scripture tells us to do…does great things.
Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. (Colossians 3:11-15 ESV)
Liberation from anger…letting the peace of Christ RULE in our hearts. Forgiving as the Lord has forgiven…
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 ESV)
His love was shown to us “while we were still sinners.”
Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31 ESV)
Love Him, Love others…it needs to be our way of life, not a quick bumper-sticker saying.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48 ESV)
The world is harsh, angry, sinful, opposed to the truth of Christ…but Jesus gives us some clear directions. “Love your enemies and pray…”, don’t be selective in whom you choose to show love too.
For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13:9-10 ESV)
Romans 13 got a bum rap in the last few weeks as it was publicly twisted to fit a political agenda…in pulling in the full context there is a strong message for us on how to live. Love does no wrong to a neighbor …it fulfills the law. Who’s your neighbor?…everyone, believer, and non-believer.
And the verses right before Romans 13…remember when Paul wrote this (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) there was no chapter separation…so these preceding verses are a part of the context of Romans 13…
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:16-21 ESV)
Strong words to live by…often difficult in this angry world…seems to run counter to the culture. But then isn’t that who we are called to be…counter-cultural, living differently, living in a way that has people wondering what is our “hope”.
And one more “word” from our Sponsor…
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2 ESV)