Focus: Romans 12:9-21
Love is necessary for survival and is often missing in life. From the child shuttled between divorced parents to the older adult sitting in the nursing home hoping that someone will come and visit this week, everyone needs love. Love is more than politeness. It is more than people being civil saying please and thank you. It is a bond and connection with someone where you know that this person is on your side and will give of themselves to help you and to care for you. Such people will give you their time and use their resources for you. You matter to them and touch their inner heartstrings. Such is the love we need and such is the love of Jesus shown by the people of the church to each other and to the world around them.
Such love will love fellow Christians in spite of their faults (v. 10). Let’s face it, every Christian faces a simple problem. We are called to love imperfect people. We are called to love the person who is always thinking of themselves and the liar that we feel we can never trust. Yet, as Christians, we are all part of a family. God is our father and the people sitting around us in the pews are our brothers and sisters in Christ. Genuine love allows for weaknesses and imperfections. Brothers, sisters, uncles and cousins don’t have to be perfect to be in the family and to be loved. Neither do fellow Christians. We need each other and belong to each other. If my fellow Christian feels loved and prospers, it makes my life better as well.
A company of Christians who you love and who love you gives you the strength to face the world with love. I know I have value and so I don’t have to badmouth a coworker who is always rude to me. I can reach out to help others because I know that God will help me. I can even empathize with people in my community (v.14-15) who are in crisis and celebrate when they have joys. I can serve them and help them. When I find someone who just seems to have no goodness in them, I can pray for them and turn them over to the Lord (v.19) so that He can punish them for their evil and allow me to remain someone who is known for doing good. Paul knows that only God can turn them around just as He took Paul from being a persecutor of the church to a humble servant of others.
Love is powerful. The Christian has the ability to change the world as he or she fills one of man’s basic needs. The love shown in a kind act encourages others to show kindness as well and shames those who are selfish. Love breaks the cycle of evil by not returning evil for evil so that it is harder for people to be evil back to you. It can create special bonds with acquaintances and turn an enemy into a friend. Having told us that we were saved by the cross in the first section of the book of Romans, Paul challenges us to be people of love just as our God is love. In this cold and sometimes heartless world, people who can love with the love of Jesus is just what the world needs.
How would a deeper relationship with someone else change your life and theirs? What is your first step to growing that relationship?