Daily posts to help you connect with God
and keep yourself travelling in the right orbit
ORBIT | WEEK SEVEN
ORBIT – DAY THIRTY
Hello and welcome to another Orbit – the daily devotional from the youth team at St Mary’s Reigate. Each day we give you a short passage of the Bible to reflect on, a way of putting it into practice in your life, and a chance to pray and reflect. At the moment we’re working our way through Paul’s letter to the Romans, as the writer continues to explain some of the most central ideas of the Christian faith to the early church.
BIBLE READING – Romans 12: 17-21
Over the last few days we’ve been working our way through Paul’s list in Romans 12 describing what it practically looks like to love one another. Today we reach the final section:
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
I wonder if peace has slightly lost its meaning? Growing up in the West, living through the longest continuous period of domestic peace since Roman times, it’s perhaps hard to understand how historically-fortunate we are to enjoy living in a time without war and conflict. But had we lived in almost any other time, or in almost any other place, we’d have a much better understanding of what it means to live with the threat of peace being taken away.
Jesus and Paul are – as always – at one on this. Peace is part of the gospel, and peace is good for the gospel. Jesus called the peacemakers blesséd in his Sermon on the Mount, and now Paul tells us to live at peace with everyone. Partly this is because the opposite of peace is war and conflict – and these definitely aren’t the tools of God’s Kingdom. But it’s also because the Christian faith is much more transmittable – more contagious – in an atmosphere of love, not hate and fear.
So with the prize of spreading the faith always at the forefront of his mind, Paul encourages the Roman Christians to do whatever they can to keep the peace – even by acting kindly to their enemies, or refusing to take revenge when it might seem fair to do so. By living this way, they cause everyone around them to realise that there’s something amazing and special – supernatural even – about this group of people who can keep their heads when all around them are losing theirs. When we refuse to buy into the culture of anger, revenge and violence around us (and Rome was full of all these things) we become a shining light within it.
It’s the same for us today – we can buy into a culture that loves to trash and shame people, that insists that we can always be right and take revenge if we need to, and that the world spins around us – or we can live differently; laying down our need to be at the centre of our world.
And if you think that sounds tough – just imagine what Paul was really asking of the Roman church. These were the same Roman Christians that were persecuted to the point of being fed to lions in the arena. They had plenty to feel aggrieved about; plenty of rights being infringed; plenty of reasons to take revenge. Instead they loved their enemies even as they were being killed by them – and as a result the Roman Empire eventually swung over to become the cornerstone of the global church. God can do a lot, when we choose the way of peace.
You might want to join me in praying this prayer. Something a bit different today: we’re going to read the famous prayer of St Francis of Assisi. See if it speaks to you as we pray through it:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring love.
Where there is offence, let me bring pardon.
Where there is discord, let me bring union.
Where there is error, let me bring truth.
Where there is doubt, let me bring faith.
Where there is despair, let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness, let me bring your light.
Where there is sadness, let me bring joy.
O Master, let me not seek as much
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love,
for it is in giving that one receives,
it is in self-forgetting that one finds,
it is in pardoning that one is pardoned,
it is in dying that one is raised to eternal life.
There’s now a chance for you to pray, or listen to God, or simply be still for a few moments.
Each day we will provide you with a simple challenge; something to do which helps you put this little thought into action. Here’s today’s challenge:
Perhaps yesterday you took up the challenge of showing kindness to someone with whom you haven’t always enjoyed a great relationship. You can see this as a continuation of that if you like, or choose a different person or situation. Today, try to take a step to repair a broken relationship. If there’s someone who you’ve fallen out with, or have lost touch with because the relationship became a bit difficult, do something deliberate today to help mend that relationship. Send them a note, or give them a call – be a peacemaker, and so make sure that you’re offering an unconditional hand of friendship, not seeking to stoke or continue the argument.
If you want to get in touch, you can always email firstname.lastname@example.org, or message us on Instagram – we’re @stmarys_satellites. Let us know what you think of this daily reflection – please – we’d love your feedback.