Romans. Revisited. (pt. 4)
In view of God’s righteousness, his faithfulness in redeeming the world and putting it back together again through his faithful Son, the Messiah, let’s consider what it looks like to join him in his redemptive mission! If you’ll remember, our faith in the faithfulness of the Messiah is designed to bring about our own faithfulness as well!
What does this faithfulness look like, in response to all God has done?
It starts with a refusal to conform to the world’s ways of life. Remember my mentioning of the consequences of Sin and Death earlier? Well, in addition to those things, you must also refuse to be conformed to the ways of pride and division. Instead of conformity, pursue transformation. Allow the Spirit of God to renew your mind, and it will revolutionize your relationships. Pursue things like unity, genuine love, harmony, and peace. In all circumstances, even when you are being persecuted, refuse to be overcome by evil. Instead, overcome evil with good.
This all more-or-less makes sense when applied to fellow believers and neighbors, but when we start talking about persecutors and the government, things get tricky! The crucial thing to remember is that, although God is in the process of invading this fallen world to establish his righteous kingdom, this does NOT mean that you should go violently overthrowing the Roman Empire, or any other empire for that matter! This is because the King we follow stands for, as I’ve just mentioned, genuine love, harmony, and peace. This rules-out violent rebellion and vengeful retaliation. I’m NOT arguing, by any means, that you should mindlessly participate in the currents of society and government which go against God’s kingdom. Stay alert and faithfully follow the Messiah! However, instead of trying to overthrow the Empire, you should reasonably and respectfully participate in society. Trust God’s sovereignty over human affairs by submitting to the authorities and paying your taxes. God’s kingdom will be established from the inside out!
These things are all related. The same characteristics of your love for each other and for your neighbors should be applied to persecutors and the governing authorities. If “in Adam,” then this stuff sounds ridiculous. However, we are “in the Messiah,” and this radically changes everything. Let us live in LOVE, the fulfillment of God’s law, as we await our Messiah’s return…
…which brings me to the most pressing issue I wish to address.
See, all of this means very little if it does not impact how you Jews and Gentiles relate to each other within the body of the Messiah, the Church. Now that you are both accepted as full members of God’s holy people, I realize that there has been quite a bit of social tension created, specifically with regards to food! While I could give you an apostolically-prescribed menu, that would defeat the purpose, because my main goal (and God’s main goal, for that matter) in this is to see you unified, harmoniously working together as Jews and Gentiles for God’s kingdom.
Here’s why this is important. If you allow something as simple and amoral as food to fragment you, think of what a slap in the face that is to the Messiah, who moved heaven and earth to defeat Sin and Death and reconcile you all to God.
Sin and Death destroy relationships.
Our Messiah destroyed Sin and Death.
If you, then, go back and destroy relationships over things such as food, you are effectively undoing the work of the Messiah.
Do not let this be so! Overwhelm each other with grace and love as you pursue unity!
Use these principles within the body to settle all further and future differences as well, for your unity and love for one another prove that God’s mission is working in the world!
I am confident that God has been and will continue to be at work in your lives. Deeply consider the things I have said to you. But take heart, for we serve a God who loves human beings, and that is why he has chosen to use us in his redemptive mission!
Just don’t forfeit this precious role by allowing people to cause dissensions among you!
I have now come full circle in my argument.
Despite our failures, God is righteous in his mission of redeeming the world through his Son, the Messiah, and through his people, the Church, of which you are a part.
His faithfulness to us through the Messiah is designed to bring about (through our faith in him) our own faithfulness and obedience to him.
May our righteous God and our faithful Messiah be praised and given glory forever!