Today's Lectionary Text
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. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Greeting to my dear friends on Martin Luther King Jr.’s federal placed date. It is a good thing to look at this passage from Romans on such a noble and honorable day.
Paul opens this section with the following statement: “9 Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 10 love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor.” I was in school when this man Martin Luther King Jr. began to go across the South where I lived and into the Northern, Western, and Eastern parts of our country teaching about the love of Christ. There was an evil that was real in our country. This evil focused on people of color. The attitude had found its way into places of worship and has left a stain even to this day where can be said that Sunday mornings are most segregated periods of time in our nation.
The church our family worshipped in was one the congregations that did not try to bridge the gap but rather to enlarge it. One night there was a called business meeting to vote on a new statement of who could worship with or join the membership of the church. As I remember the new statement said: No nonwhite person would we allowed in the build for worship or to join the membership of the church.
Yes, that congregation did not hate evil but acted in hateful way. As to my knowledge before that night of the vote or afterward no know person of color every came to worship. Unless you count our family and others with Native American blood. Of course, we never let people know. For all they knew we were just dark-skinned white folk.
Looking back to that night long ago, I wish I had of had the backbone to say to my elders, this is wrong and not what the Bible teaches us to do. That we are called to live a life of love and welcome people no matter their skin color following the words of Paul in Romans 12: 10: “love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor.” (RSV) Maybe then at least one act of hate would have been stopped.
“21 Do not be overcome by evil but, overcome evil with good.” Paul’s closing words in the focal passage. We should never give into evil, let good over come the evil that has taken up resident in the hearts and minds of people. There will always be people who choose to go to the dark side when dealing with almost any topic. The Church will continue to have to discover God’s way on issues we have not even thought off to this point.
The question we must answer, is will we act out of love or hate?
Dennis "Buck" Linton-Hendrick, Pastor
Harvard/Inland/Trumbull UMC's, Nebraska
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