Living peaceably with everyone is difficult in a violent world. Daily we hear news reports of death and destruction that result from human greed and oppressive structures. Even Chris- tians find it hard to overcome the desire to repay evil for evil. And yet that is what God calls us to do. We are called to bless and not curse those who do us harm; to strive for peace, leaving retributive justice to God; to show love at all times and in all places. But ensuring that we allow love to rule in all situations presents a serious challenge.
Paul here connects a believer’s love of God with service to neighbor. Living holy lives as Christians in the world demands that we hold fast to God if we intend to follow the path of love set by Christ. Living in harmony, even in the church, presents a challenge, as does showing hospitality to strangers, especially those who do not look like we do and whom we consider “other” because of difference in gender, race, class, sexuality, age, ability, or any other social definer. And yet that is God’s call on our lives: to “live peaceably with all.”
Living holy lives that demonstrate love requires that we acknowledge the imago dei (image of God) in each person and live actively in God’s presence. By so doing we will be able to see and respond to their needs and seek justice for all. Paul’s words offer a guide and, by the ever-present grace of God, we can follow it and live lives of genuine Christian love.
Christ our Savior, help us walk closely with you as we seek to follow your example and be people of love. Amen.
In Exodus 3, Moses is moved to inspect the bush because it is an oddity, and in so doing he encounters the presence of the living God. Not even Moses could be prepared for the challenge that ensues. Psalm 105 recites God’s great acts of mercy in Israel’s life; in this instance, focusing on Moses and Aaron. The key verb here is “sent,” and its subject is God. In Romans 12, Paul takes the notion of covenant demand and expounds on it. Christians are called not simply to keep rules; they are transformed and readied for new life in the world. Paul provides an inventory of new life for those who are changed and renewed by the gospel. The Gospel reading is one of Jesus’ most acute reflections on the obedience expected of the faithful. He announces his own destiny of suffering obedience and invites his disciples to share in that radical destiny. For the faithful, there is no “business as usual”; it’s a divine call that brings challenge.
• Read Exodus 3:1-15. Have you experienced God’s call to something you felt ill-equipped for? What did you say to God? to yourself?
• Read Psalm 105:1-6, 23-26, 45c. How difficult is it for you to praise God in the midst of turmoil? Why?
• Read Romans 12:9-21. Where in your life do you have opportunities to bless those who curse you?
• Read Matthew 16:21-28. What does your call to discipleship in Christ cost you?
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