Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. – Romans 13:8-12
The Bible, as we all know, is an amazing book. You can read it, re-read it, look at many different translations, run into new ideas, consume whole books in a single sitting, study single passages in depth, become completely familiar with every detail, dig into the historical and cultural contexts, become interested in biblical archaeology, travel to the Middle East, pinpoint favorite characters, return to familiar passages, study alone or with others, take classes, reference Bible dictionaries and commentaries, read it every day, listen to great expositors of the word….
All this, and more, yet something new always seems to come to the surface and grab my attention just about ever day, inviting me to consider more about God and to walk more closely as a follower of Jesus and a student of scripture. The Living Word revealed in the words.
So this morning I was looking at some texts in Romans, then settled in on the passage quoted above. Two ideas spoke so clearly to what is going on in the world right now, and – more specifically, to how we live – how we must live – in response to the amazing fact of God’s love toward and for us.
- First, “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another.” Another word for debt is obligation, We often act lovingly – or not – in response to emotion, whatever emotion governs the moment. Well, and as I pointed out to the guys in my men’s group Wednesday evening, “feelings” of love and harmony don’t come that easily when you have to “shelter in place” with people you typically only see a few hours a day! So our love-in-action must be in a sense obligatory (adjective – binding in law or conscience). The gospel – essentially – obliges us to treat one another lovingly. I believe this is an important idea to cultivate in this unusual time.
- Then, and also an example of “I choose to do this” faith, “The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” Think of the light of Christ as an offensive weapon against the darkness. It may be a very basic idea, but darkness simply ceases to exist in the presence of light. We, therefore, are invited to shine, and to shine in such a way that darkness is defeated on every front. But here’s the caveat: We have to go into the darkness in order to defeat it. We won’t eradicate darkness by huddling together somewhere safe. And, we must take our light source with us, and our light comes from Jesus.
Have an amazing, light-filled, love saturated Thursday, friends, the world needs you to! – DEREK