I don’t think i can tell you just how much i am being wrecked by Romans. Don’t worry. This isn’t me complaining. Not in the least!
If ya remember, Friday, I sat down not long after my husband left for work with coffee in one hand and my bible in the other. I’m a reader and sometimes I get so engulfed in reading that my coffee goes cold. And that happened on Friday. My giant mug filled with caffeinated goodness was sitting neglected on the table as I poured into Romans, chapter after chapter, pausing only to take notes and reread the juicy bits. And let me tell you, Paul is not known for mincing words.
I’ve read Romans before. I used to read entire books of the Bible during church while the pastor droned on and on. (Please don’t get me wrong. I loved that pastor. But I was in middle school and hadn’t learned to take notes yet.) It was during these sermons that I learned about Ruth and Esther. I’m pretty sure that Romans was in the circuit at some point.
Last night, Brandon asked (very cutely) if we could attend a service at the Village. I was perfectly content to go. So we went. And wouldn’t you know that Matt talked about Romans? Particularly chapter 13 and how it deals with our faith and our nation. I don’t think I’d realized how blessed we are as Americans with our liberty until you realized that other nations (of any rank) don’t have some of the liberties we do. Like we can openly speak on street corners of our faith, or post pictures and statuses on Facebook regarding our political and/or religious views.
But we forget we are subject to the law.
I don’t know anyone who would agree with 100% of what is being done in this country regarding the way it’s run or the decisions the leaders have reached. But we can openly talk about it. But one thing i’ve noticed in the way I’ve responded and I’m now convicted about is that I haven’t responded in love. I become so indignant that something has happened or that someone I don’t even know is wronged and I feel like I need to shout it out to all around me. If you notice me doing this in the future and you know that I’m not doing it out of love, Gibbs Slap me (watch NCIS for reference)
Actually, it’s because of this passage in Romans 13 that I am staying completely out of a political discussion on Facebook. I have a lot of conservative family. Actually, you could call them ultraconservative. While I was at college as a religion major, several of my professors taught me how important it is to take the Bible as a whole with you as you study it. Study the history of the passage, the culture of the audience, the original language and word choice (like why phileo instead of agape?), etc before drawing your conclusions. As a result, my world view tends to be a little more conservative than liberal, but way liberal compared to some of my family. I tend to place myself in the middle, generally speaking, but enough about that.
So family posts super conservative propaganda which has the intent to guilt me into believing the way they do. They probably do this out of genuine concern for their friends and family, but if someone speaks against a post, family will come out with guns blazing. Sometimes it feels as though they think I’m not Christian because I don’t agree with what they have posted.
For instance, November, I posted Romans 13, basically stating that who ever won the election would still be human, still make mistakes, and more than anything need our prayers because if I have a hard enough time keeping control of one or two kids, how much more is the President going to have issues. Not only does he have his own family and their problems, but he has the entire nation’s problems to worry about! You’d think I was endorsing the President the way one family member responded and elevating his status. Nope. I was fed up with politics and needing to let others know that I was not ok with bashing people in leadership because all authority is God given.
What does that mean about “bad” or “evil” leaders? They are going to happen, whether it’s as God’s judgment or a way to burn off the chaff in Christianity and test His children. What does that mean for me as a Christian? Well, I’ll be a Daniel(le) in that case. I will obey the laws of the land until they start to mandate I abandon my responsibilities to God and His law. So I can’t speak His name? I will continue to praise him and respectfully continue to. My actions to the laws should wreak grace and reek of grace. But I should continue to pray for the leaders and also remember that vengeance is God’s.
That was last night.
I peeked at the devotion for my HelloMornings crew and tomorrow is more romans. I continue to be convicted in how I live my life because of Romans. I think I could write an entire book about how Romans has completely wrecked the way I see people.
It also makes me sad.
I know that when Jesus returns and every knee bows, some of those knees will be bowing for the first time, completely ignorant of the full life they could’ve lived previously. Or if you’re a “fire and brimstone” person, they will have spent time in hell. Personally I don’t believe in the “separation from God” hell. Instead, I think that “hell” will be a place that is filled with God’s love with people who are ashamed and guilty to feel this kind of grace…that this will be a “heaping of coal on their head” and they can’t fathom why and enjoy it… that it will be eternity of being “killed with kindness.” If I’m wrong and it is fire and brimstone separation from God, I still have the same issues. My friends and family that haven’t chosen the path of Grace through the Cross will still be apart from the giant worship party that will be Heaven. I don’t want to be separated from everyone. I am responsible for letting others know that He is real and that they can choose to worship Him happily. This journey of faith is an adventure and foolish to the wise and by golly, I want in.
I am being wrecked. And I don’t care…