I want to focus on how Paul talks about loving those outside the Christian community, by living in such a way that fosters peace. “Do not repay anyone evil for evil … Do not be overcome by evil.” It’s an important thought today – let’s face it…there is enough ill will in this world that we shouldn’t add to it ourselves. Instead, how do we show love? How do we not act as judge? How do we live in light of God’s grace and mercy in our dealings with those outside the Christian community…and, for that matter, within the Christian community?
I have to be honest…it isn’t always easy – there are a great many things I don’t like and this influences my thinking. Because what Paul is really talking about in today’s passage is not simply a matter of holding one’s tongue or practicing self-control when confronted. No, he is saying initiating good – doing good for those who are our opponents…overcome evil with good.
Romans 12 provides us a Christian ethic in terms of our relationships…marked by humble, generous love, no matter the character or status of those to whom Christians relate. We saw it in Rom 12:1-2: presenting ourselves as living sacrifices – giving everything we have for the good of others – to be transformed, our minds renewed, to know and do God’s will. I think this is the context of true love for us to ponder today. True love requires us to live alongside and engage with others in a full-bodied way.
How can we, engage with others in practical and physical ways – loving outsiders…those outside of First Pres to point them to Jesus? How can we engage with those who oppose Christianity and be salt and light to them? As Matt indicated Monday…may God bring out the best in each of us!