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. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. ~ Romans 12:9-21
So often it seems as if Christians are known for what we are against.
Against LGBTQ+ people. Against Abortion. Against any number of perceived sins.
Is that what we are about?
Is that how we are meant to live out our lives? To live them in condemnation?
Instead, Paul gives some powerful and positive ways in which we can live our our lives: ways that we can live in love. Genuine love.
What does genuine love look like?
It blesses instead of curses. It's hopeful and patient. It perseveres and is generous.
It shows hospitality to those whom the world tends to forget.
Well, you can read the list for yourself.
What would the world look like if we remembered this was our ethos?
Where are the places I need to begin living that out? Where are the places that I find this most difficult?
This picture of genuine love from Paul gives us a glimpse of what the church is. This is who we are. Not just who we are meant to be, but who we are.
Do we always live up to it? Nope.
But maybe all we need to do is remind ourselves that this is the core of our being. Maybe that reminder is all we need to begin to let genuine love flow freely from us into the world that needs it.
Let your love flow freely from me, Holy One - especially in those places I seem to forget! Amen