S (Scripture):Romans 12:17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil; consider what is good before all people. 12:18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all people…12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
O (Observation): Paul has addressed the Jewish Christians in Rome by now (Romans 4-8) explaining that Gentile Christians are as much a part of God’s family as the Jewish Christians. Paul has addressed the Gentile Christians (Romans 9-11) explaining to them that the Jewish Christians are not bad for wanting to follow the law. The Jewish Christians were God’s first chosen ones. Some of them don’t believe in Jesus Christ, but many do.
So, what to do???
Paul understands that those who were Jews, but now believe in Christ aren’t getting along with those Gentiles who now believe in Jesus Christ.
Paul is working out, in Romans 12, what it means to live in community when you come from different backgrounds and you have differing gifts. Paul urges them to love one another. Especially if their common gift is a faith in Jesus Christ, a work of the Spirit.
A (Application): Paul’s words quoted above are good in general, but put them in the context of a community that is not getting along. Makes a bit of a difference, no?
We are a diverse people in this great big dysfunctional family of faith as Christians. We have a lot of vitriol. We spew anger and hateful comments towards those who don’t see religion the way we see it.
Fundamentalists. Evangelicals. Mainline Traditionalists. Spiritual, but not Religious. We all make up a strange group of believers in Jesus Christ. And…we all have hated or despised one another, at times.
Taking Paul’s words…we might be wise to listen to one another. We might be surprised to find some gems of truth amongst our varied beliefs. I’m not saying you should compromise your beliefs…but we should treat one another with respect. Maybe we can learn from one another. Maybe we can show humility, by listening to one another, before judging…and if you disagree, do so peaceably.
P (Prayer): Lord, we can be brutal with each other. Help us to seek the higher road. Help us to know that our faith comes solely as a gift from you – that we hold no privilege….only that you sent your Spirit to bring each of us to faith. Amen.