Live in Harmony/Concordia: A sermon on Romans 12:9-21
Live in Harmony/Concordia
† Jesus, Son, Savior †
May you realize the grace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ enables and empowers you to live in harmony with each other, as God intended!
Live in Concord
When I originally put a title to this sermon, it was missing one of the words you see up on the screen right now.
Anyone want to guess?
The original title read this way, Live in Concordia.
But I was afraid that some people might start moving their bedroom furniture into the Multi-Purpose Room this week, and Hank and Loreen would sell the furniture at next week’s yard sale!
Seriously, Concordia was the Latin name of the goddess the ancient Greeks called Harmonia – the two words are interchangeable, one simply finds it roots in Latin, the other in Greek. So to live in harmony, as Paul tells us, is to live in Concordia.
We are to blend together, with one heart and mind. Not to be copies or clones of each other, but rather to have our lives be together working together as one, as beautiful as any symphony.
For that is who God is transforming us to be, a people who love other, who really love them, with genuine affection.
Even if it isn’t easy, even if we struggle to do so, for in that struggle we learn to depend on the God who changes us!
Love each other, challenging at times.
Love the stranger – that’s what the word hospitality means – literally to love the alien like a brother.
Ask God to bless those who try to crush you.
This isn’t exactly easy stuff!
It’s going to be very difficult at times, it is going to take effort that we don’t want to put into it, that we are not sure is worth it.
It is very different from who society has tried to make us become.
This is love without bounds, being ready to help them at all times, without any hypocrisy, as we serve God by loving others.
It’s a lot of work, we can’t be slackers about it, it takes dedication, and hearing God and obeying Him, even when we don’t want to love them.
Let’s be honest, though they may be different for each of us, there are people that it is hard to love. Maybe it’s a neighbor, or a family member, or a person on the road that cut you off, or maybe even a pastor or deacon.
If this was simple and natural, Paul wouldn’t be writing it, covering every loophole he does.
We have to love each other, we have to love others, even those who aren’t like us… we have to love our enemies enough that we plead with God to bless them. As Jeremiah says, we have to influence them on God’s behalf, rather than let them influence us by their persecution, by their hatred.
We have to love our enemy!
To do otherwise, to not do so is sin….
The righteous anger of God….
Paul gives us a way to deal with our tension, our frustration with those who are our enemies, those who persecute us, and try to crush us.
He says not to take revenge, to not personally seek our own brand of justice.
Let God handle it, let God’s righteous anger work itself out. For God will do what is ultimately righteous, what sees sin paid for fully, which wreaks havoc on the guilty.
God promises this!
Even if the one who pays the price is Jesus.
Actually, that is His glorious preference, that all sinners would be united to Jesus at the cross. All sinners. All those others, all those strangers all those aliens and even you and I.
So rest assured, what we plead for if we hear God, is fully within His will.
And that changes everything, as God saves you and me, uniting us to Jesus, demonstrating His grace and mercy to us in that cross where His blood was spilled where hopefully they will be united as well, for Jesus paid the price for all our sin.
Which is why I find the greatest place for reconciling people to be here, at this altar, at this place where God’s love is poured out on us
Our confident Hope.
I want to back track from God’s wrath being poured out on Jesus for a moment, to verse 12,
Let’s read it together,
12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.
Rejoice in our confident hope, the hope we find at the cross, the hope we find in the resurrection, reaffirmed every time we unite with Christ’ in communion, even as we did in baptism.
Be patient and longsuffering. Don’t think a life lived loving others will be easy, but suffer through it, depending on God not only for the strength and power but to help you stand firm.
Which is why you keep on praying, pleading with God for them, and to help you remember His love for you. Prayer is more than just asking God, it’s talking to Him, realizing His love, letting Him take the weight off your shoulders. It is keeping your eyes on Him, knowing that enemies can’t crush you.
You see, that’s the key, to keep your eyes on God, to keep in His presence, to find yourself loved and safe in His peace. AMEN!