Romans, Chapter 12, has become one of my favorite scripture readings, especially when reading the interpretation by Eugene Peterson in The Message because of its down-to-earth expression of the way God would have us live out our individual, precious lives. Some have called the second half of that chapter Paul’s own version of the Sermon on the Mount. Paul was writing to the Christians in Rome, a church that was splitting apart by contentious relationships within the church and hostilities with non-Christian Romans outside the church.
Here’s how Barbara Brown Taylor describes it:
“There were black eyes and bad feelings all over the place. Marcus went to the midweek service so he would not have to sit in the same room with Clovis on Sunday; Lucius was so mad at both of them that he had quit coming to church at all; and Chloe had just bought herself a pit bull to keep her pagan neighbors from cutting through her yard. It was a mess, all the way around.”
So, in the same manner that he addressed with the fractured church in Corinth, Paul emphasizes Jesus’ one commandment: Love. Here are a few of Paul’s directives:
- Run from evil, hold on to good
- Bless your enemies
- Don’t hit back
- Discover beauty in everyone
- Don’t let evil take away your best self
- Get the best of evil by doing good
As our community, our nation, and our world continues to be haunted by violence and threat, how does the church, the Body of Christ, and all its individual members make any real difference to the fierce power of anger and hatred? Paul says it’s time we “walked the talk.” See you this Sunday at worship!
Rev. Linda McDermott
Senior Associate Pastor &
Associate Pastor of Worship
1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life — your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life — and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for God. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what God wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
9-10 Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.
11-13 Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.
14-16 Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.
17-19 Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”
20-21 Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.
— Romans 12:1-2, 9-21 (The Message)