TEXT: Romans 12:9-21
TITLE: Living God’s Will
THESIS: God’s will is about how we treat people.
- This may have been the first scripture I read at UCP – the night I interviewed with the Church Council. They invited me to help with the conflict going on at the time – and this is one scripture I often read in that context. Conflict is always about relationships between people, and that’s what this is about.
- This chapter begins with a call to Jesus’ followers. … Refuse to conform to the patterns of the world around us, and be transformed by the renewing of our minds. And when we do that, our lives will show to other people what God’s will is. Our lives will now conform to what God wants.
- Love – Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
- Passion – 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
- Generosity – 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[a] Do not be conceited.
- Nonviolence – 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[b] says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[c]
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
- The way I described this life in the children’s time was this:
- Care about people.
- Be excited about God.
- Share everything with others.
- Do good to others. (“Do no harm.”)
- Whatever words or phrases we use to summarize this way of life, it is about how we treat people. It is about relationships, whether with people we’ve just met or people we’ve known all our lives.
- God is love. What God’s life – and God’s will – is for all of us can be captured in that one word … if we understand it. We don’t fully understand, but we can live into it as a mystery and come to understand it more and more.
- Some people say this scripture is addressed only to the Church – to Christians – and that it doesn’t apply to all our relationships in the world. They say that it is only about personal relationships and not about culture or society or a nation. That it has nothing to do with how we as a people, as a nation, live.
- But I remind you of John 3:16 … God loved the world. – Or 2 Cor 5:19 (God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself) – Or 1 Tim. 2:2 – that God wants everyone to be saved. — Everyone is included in God’s love; none are excluded. If we are going to pass God’s love to everyone, it means choosing to live in that love – with passion and generosity and nonviolence toward everyone.
- The patterns of the world too often are the ways of fear, anger, hatred, racism, violence, and exclusion – dividing up into groups who see each other as ‘the enemy’ to be destroyed. – Do not conform. Reject it all! – And be transformed in your whole being to live in the ways of love, passion, generosity, and nonviolence. And in this way, you will show what God’s will to the world.