For the last seven weeks we have heard snippets from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans. This letter is the longest of all of the epistles of the Apostle to the Gentiles.
Paul did not have much success in preaching to the Jews, his own people, and the leaders even plotted to have him killed. It was his declaration of his Roman citizenship that saved him. And when he got to Rome, he continued to preach to Jews in that city, but at the end of the book of the Acts of the Apostles, he gave up that effort. His last words there were, “Let it be known to you then that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.”
Now, the letter to the Romans was written from Corinth about AD 56 -57, while the Acts of the Apostles came much later, written by St. Luke as a continuation of his Gospel.
We have learned something about sin in the last few weeks. I’m kind of tired of hearing about it, aren’t you? Someone once told me they didn’t like church much because they already felt judged and guilty, and they didn’t need a preacher to confirm it for them.
Some churches never mention sin. They have great music and an uplifting message every Sunday. For them, the preaching is the main part of the service. How would you like to hear Fr. Rogers and me preaching about sin for 30 minutes or more? Not very much, I would guess.
Now that we have beaten you down with that message, let’s turn to a more uplifting subject.
Chapter 8 of St. Pau’s letter to the Romans is about life in the Spirit. The first two verses set the tone: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death.”
You and I have been set free from the law of sin and death. That’s good news! It’s easy to tak e it from granted, though, isn’t it? That’s why we cannot say, “I have been saved,” and leave it at that.
If that were all there was to it, this letter to the Romans would be very short, instead of the longest. So, now, rather than continue to dwell on our sins, we can enjoy our life in the Spirit of Christ.
All who are led by the Spirit are children of God. We have no reason to live in fear.
I have to ask myself, now, why are so many of us living in fear? Right now it seems like so many in this world are living in fear. Now, it’s the virus. Before that, what was it? The results of some election? What will it be after the virus? Move title: “ATTACK OF THE CORONAVIRUS, PART 2: THIS TIME IT’S PERSONAL.”
Some are deathly afraid of leaving their houses right now.
Some are afraid because there are angry mobs tearing down statues, destroying property, and looting stores. And, as few in the media will ever talk about, Christianity is under attack more and more every day. Now people, here in the US, are trying to burn and destroy churches.
We know this has been going on in many Muslim dominated countries for many years, but now is it hitting home. What exactly are these people afraid of?
What is our answer? First, we pray. That is what we do. Prayer is not wasted breath as some people think. We have a God who listens to our prayers. But we have to be people of prayer. We have books devoted to prayer, so there is no excuse for us not praying in response to what is going on in this world. We don’t sit and complain and fret. We pray.
We pray because our Lord taught us how. We can call God our Father, which is a huge honor that we may not fully appreciate. As I said last week, no one in the centuries before the Incarnation would ever consider using such a familiar term. We can call him “Abba, Father.” We do not fall back into fear, but we have received the Spirit as heirs of the kingdom.
Next, we continue to do the good works our Lord has called to. We give of our time, or talents, and our treasure. We contribute out of our abundance to those who are poor. We help those who have a hard time helping themselves.
And we live as people who abide the Spirit of Christ. We wait patiently for what is to be revealed, “for if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience,” says St. Paul.
Do not give into fear, “for the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us.”
For the last day will come. Jesus said, “Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!” Amen