Daily posts to help you connect with God
and keep yourself travelling in the right orbit
ORBIT | WEEK SEVEN
ORBIT – DAY TWNETY NINE
Hello and welcome to Orbit – a resource for daily time with God, created by the youth team at St Mary’s Reigate. Each weekday we give you a bit of the Bible to ponder, plus a practical way of applying it to your life today.
BIBLE READING: Romans 12: 14-16
This week we’re mainly looking at a short section of Paul’s letter to the Romans in depth. In it, Paul is describing what love – the driving force of the church – looks like in action. Today, we’ll hear how he continues this list of virtues that we should aspire to as Christians, which put together begin to make up a comprehensive lifestyle of love.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Behaviour is really about how we treat one another. If we lived completely in isolation, it wouldn’t matter if we were totally selfish, or did lots of outrageous things, or enjoyed smashing up our home. The only person that this would be impacting – would be us: we’d have to put up with the side effects of our own bad behaviour.
But we don’t live in isolation – even in a time of pandemic – and our lifestyle choices almost always have an impact on someone else. Sometimes we’re not aware of that – we don’t see the farmer who lives in poverty because we don’t buy fairly traded goods for example – but often we can’t overlook those consequences. They’re right in our face: if we treat someone poorly, we find out straight away.
So for Paul, if the church is going to reflect Jesus well and share his message, it’s pretty important that we consider our interactions with other people. In this passage, he tells the early Christians to ‘live in harmony with each other.’ Instead of being disruptive or difficult, he says that we should try our best to get along.
He also wants to be clear that followers of Jesus don’t buy into cultural hierarchies. When Paul says “be willing to associate with people of low position” he’s tearing up the social rulebook. Rich and poor didn’t mix in that society – yet Paul wants to be absolutely clear that this isn’t God’s way. We should show as much love to the richest person as to the poorest.
Finally – let’s look at the very first thing Paul says in today’s reading – and it’s the trickiest. Echoing Jesus who said ‘love your enemies’ – Paul says that we should bless those who persecute us. If someone hates us, treats us with contempt, unkindness or disrespect, we shouldn’t just ignore them – we should actively be kind to them in return. If we’re honest, this is one of Christianity’s hardest teachings – but it’s also the only way that cycles of bad behaviour are broken. Revenge just leads to revenge, but loving our enemies can eventually transform them.
In short – Paul says that how we treat other people, really matters. By loving people no matter who they are, or what they’ve done to us, we go from being recipients of God’s love, to bearers of God’s love. And God’s love is the only thing that can truly change the world – what an awesome privilege it is to be a part of that.
You might want to join me in praying this prayer.
Lord God I pray that you would give me the strength to represent you well in all my interactions with other people. Would you help me to show love not only to people I like, or people who look like me, but even to people who seem not to like me at all. Help me to live in harmony with people in every area of my life, and by doing so, would we see bits of your kingdom breaking into this world. Amen
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:
What does it mean to love our enemies in practice? Relax – we’re not going to ask you to seek out your nemesis – but perhaps you could identify someone with whom you haven’t always had a smooth relationship. Try to think of one thing you could do to ‘bless’ that person today – leave a muffin on their doorstep, or drop round an anonymous encouraging note; or think of some other way of showing them kindness. Just by being kind to someone who isn’t a great friend, you are beginning to put Paul’s words into action, and experiencing what it means to show unconditional love. You’ll probably make their day too!
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.
We’ll be back with another edition of Orbit tomorrow. Thanks for taking part today!