For 11 chapters Paul has explained the mystery of the salvation – the rescue – God has
lovingly provided, not only for the nation he chose long ago to be his particular people, but for all people everywhere. In last week’s passage, the start of Chapter 12,
he started to unpack the implications, how God’s mercy should shape our activities
and attitudes. In summary, having been rescued from judgement by God’s mercy, we must offer our whole selves back to him as living sacrifices, learn to think like God, and each willingly play the part God has called us to in his mission.
In Romans 12:9-21 Paul explains that even though God has gathered us from vastly
different backgrounds, a motley crew of chalk and cheese, we are to ‘be devoted to
one another’ as though we are family, we’re to esteem one another.
It’s in that context that we need to read the next ten verses. The love that Jesus said
must be the hallmark of every Christian is first and foremost to be demonstrated in
our relationships with each other. But it’s clearly not going to be a piece of cake. We
have to cling to what is good, like people drowning in a wild sea, because our
differences, our culture, our human logic, will all try to drive us apart from each other.
So we must love each other zealously, remembering when we get slapped that we’re
doing it out of devotion and service to God. When our relationships look hopeful, w
must take joy in that, when they stink, we must be patient, and through it all, we must
Concern for each other will prompt us to share what we’ve got with our Christian
brothers and sisters who are struggling, including opening our homes to those we
don’t naturally like. Remembering that we too are imperfect, and have inflicted hurt
on others, will help us choose to bless people who hurt us, instead of lashing back,
either openly or in the privacy of our hearts. As people who have been granted the
costly gift of peace with God, we are each responsible for striving, for making
sacrifices, to live at peace with each other.