Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Romans 12

Yesterday, during staff meeting I inaugurated a new custom for us as we opened with devotions and invited the staff to join me reflection on a passage of scripture. As the opener, I chose the 12th chapter of Paul's letter to the Romans. With all that is going on around the world and in our own corner of the Body of Christ, I am drawn more and more to this passage. It speaks to us of what it means to both be an individual attempting to walk with Christ and respond to the disciple's call...and also what it means to enter into the world of Church and into relationship with others, even as those engagements lead to conflict and struggle.

Paul acknowledges that it is not easy to be either Church...or an individual in the church. He speaks to the reality that humanity would much rather see conformity to the world that the transformation of it through the love of Christ. He is quite direct: "be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God--what is good and acceptable and perfect." This is the disciple's challenge that we are called upon to accept and build upon. From the 1st century forward, though, Paul understands that this is just where we all stumble and fall. We get confused about what directions to take in life because the noise and tumult of conflict and controversy demand our attention. We lose sight of the fact that there are many members of this Body, each with unique gifts and callings. It is not about conformity to some envisioned standard of what is acceptable, but a willingness to be guided into what is about to become. In that, God's will for us is realized.

I understand that, again, in the wake of our mission trip to Guatemala. Paul is not equivocating when he exhorts us to "let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor."
From the feast given us on that Saturday we visited Solala to this present moment, I have been walking with open eyes and seeing the gifts that the people of these communities, Solebury and Solala, continue to offer at the altar of God as the first fruits of their labor and love of Christ. Little things mean the most. People show up in a moment's notice to clean a kitchen. Others commit to a summer meeting to plan next year's mission trips and fundraisers. August is transformed from a sleepy month to one of bustling preparation. These are the true gifts of the spirit that Christ is continually drawing our attention to...even as the stresses of the everyday threaten to overwhelm us.

As Paul said, "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

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