Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I have the privilege and the responsibility for the message this Sunday in DiscipleChurch. I am grateful that Page, Brooks, and all those in this service give me an opportunity to explore my faith in this way.
I hope this is part of what Paul means when he says we should “be transformed by the renewing of our minds, so that we may discern what is the will of God.” That is one of the opening verses in Romans 12, the Scripture passage for this Sunday. This blog is a little long and now you can skip to the bottom for the illustrated version.
I know, at least in some ways, my mind is renewed because I have some new opinions and thoughts about Paul. I started to see him in a different and more approachable way before I heard this troubling question: What are my core values? How are they manifested in the way I live? And not on Sunday, but throughout my week — in my family, in my relationships, and even in my work.
Paul has a lot to say in his letters about how we live and relate to each other. He covers so much high ground: grace, salvation, Christ, the Holy Spirit, righteousness, and the law. But he also speaks directly about how we live with each other, how we relate to each other, what it means for us to love one another.
Once again, as I prayed about some of these passages, I heard more questions than answers: What do I hope for? What do I need to hope for?
What makes me suffer? How can I find hope? Why should I be patient when I suffer?
In the past I didn’t really like Paul because he often sounds judgmental, some passages are contradictory, and I disagree with some of what he says. Now, after the series by Brooks about how we experience God and some thoughts from Richard Rohr, I see Paul in a new way and find he has a lot to offer me. Still, why are some of Paul’s passages so clear, compact, and direct and others are opaque, wordy, and indecipherable?
Romans 12:12 is not one of those. It is a clear, compact, and direct verse that speaks to me now:
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.”
Throughout his letters Paul offers tremendous insight and, for me, great spiritual truths that help answer that question about core values. He talks a lot about how we experience God, the Holy Spirit in our lives, and how we live with each other.
Right now I want to end with one more verse from Romans, 15:13, about hope and an image that may inspire hope:
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”