Today is a combination of different pieces that came together to really speak to me today. First came these words from Romans 12:9-21 – which can basically stand on their own without any commentary…some of the most powerful, challenging, convicting, beautiful words in Scripture…
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 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.
I read these while I was working out this morning. I went from these words to another part of my workout when I was listening to one of Rob Bell’s podcasts, this one a conversation with a philosopher and theologian named Peter Rollins. Without going into everything Rollins said, one sentence really stuck out to me. He said, “I don’t care so much about what you believe, but about how you believe.” That was one of those “stop the podcast” moments where I needed to just let those words sink in. What we believe is important, yes, but how we believe is vital. How we take what Christ has done in the world and in our lives and live it out.
When I read those words of Paul, they are daunting. Some of them sound easier to do than others – try to have genuine love, hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good, rejoice in hope, seek to show hospitality, and a bunch of others too. But then Paul throws in, “Bless those who persecute you.” “Never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God” “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Those are a lot harder to do and honestly a lot of what we hear around us right now – both outside the church and unfortunately within the church too says the very opposite of those things.
These parts of Paul’s words and the challenge given by Rollins about how the “How we live out what we believe” feel like this road. Its a straight road yes and a road that God lays before us. But it can feel desolate and it can feel like the end is nowhere in sight. It can feel like its an impossible task. Yet that is what we are called to – an impossible task led to us by an incredible God providing us unimaginable blessings and strength to follow. But we do need to walk the path. Its not just something we can say, “Yes I believe” but also we need to say, “Yes I will.”