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. (Romans 12:9-18)
Romans Chapter 12 is my favorite passage from the entire New Testament. It begins by challenging us to present ourselves as living sacrifices to God, choosing not to conform to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (our whole being and essence, in the Greek), so that we might discern and do the will of God. Then it speaks to our giftedness and our place in the body of Christ, finishing with instructions and admonitions to the church. I honestly believe that if the church today retained no other scrap of scripture, this would give us everything we need to work on for our entire lives.
Love one another and be genuine. Hate what is evil and hurtful and instead hold fast to the good. Outdo one another in showing honor. Serve the Lord, passionately, constantly, ardently, and fervently. Be hopeful, patient in suffering, and pray – a lot. Give to people’s needs and take care of them. Don’t be vindictive or petty; be empathetic and engaged. Work for unity, live in harmony, and don’t make trouble. Be humble, be humble, be humble. Live peaceably with ALL.
Some might say, “yes, but what about this or that? What about what’s left out?” My advice? Let’s master what is here, then we can worry about what is not. Can you imagine how our churches and world would be transformed were we to become experts at love, kindness, compassion, giving, patience, unity, harmony, humility, hospitality, and service? I challenge every pastor and lay person to spend a year reading and reflecting on Romans 12 devotionally. Let’s make it our goal not just to read and understand it, but to embody and live it as a witness to our world.
Prayer: Come Holy Spirit of God, fill us, fix us, free us, and fulfill in us our potential to be the body of Christ for the world! Work God’s miraculous transformation in our hearts, minds, souls, and spirits. Help us to become everything God desires us to be. In all that we think, in all that we say, and in all that we do, let us honor and glorify God, in the name of Jesus the Christ. Amen.
May this devotion provide you with a moment of faithful reflection and care. You are involved in ministries of justice and witness, in ministries of standing up and standing with people working to create better systems and communities, in ministries of learning and searching and researching to become more aware and awakened, more technologically savvy and proficient, more virtually and personally present in your churches and communities and world. Each of us who serve as members of your Wisconsin Cabinet write these devotions in grateful prayer for you – for sustenance and buoyancy, for strength and courage, for safety and just actions, and for faith and love to be full and fulfilled in your daily lives. God’s grace and blessings, God’s challenge and healthy discomfort, God’s Spirit and energy be with you, in the hope Christ offers us all.