A Reading from Paul’s Letter to the Romans.
Another reason for right living is this: you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for the coming of the Lord is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is far gone, the day of his return will soon be here. So quit the evil deeds of darkness and put on the armor of right living, as we who live in the daylight should! Be decent and true in everything you do so that all can approve your behavior. Don’t spend your time in wild parties and getting drunk or in adultery and lust or fighting and jealousy. But ask the Lord Jesus Christ to help you live as your should, and don’t make plans to enjoy evil.
— Romans 13:11-14 (TLB)
This is the Word of the Lord.
When Paul wrote these words to the church in Rome, he did so with great urgency. See, the early Church believed that Jesus was coming back—next Tuesday. It was so close they could almost taste it.
Almost two thousand years have passed since then. The darkness is still pressing in. The hour is still late. And, we still await the return of our King.
But, we shouldn’t let two thousand years of waiting stop us from changing our lives or the world around us. We should continue to live as if the time is short. We should continue to live as if the King’s return is scheduled for next Tuesday.
What does that mean?
What does it mean to live as light in a place of darkness?
Paul’s words to the church at Rome were more than just an admonition to live right in order to be on Christ’s good side when he returns. This admonition goes far beyond that.
Paul is telling these believers in Rome—the ultimate of ungodly empires—that it was time to change the culture in which they lived. It was time to bring light into a dark place. It was time to do things differently than those around them did.
I read a great book last year called Seven Revolutions: How Christianity Changed the World and Can Change It Again by Mike Aquilina and James Papandrea. (An affiliate link to purchase the book is at the end of this post.) In it the authors highlighted seven areas where the early Church changed the culture around them. Seven areas where they lived as light in the darkness of empire. Each of these seven areas have a modern-day equivalent. In other words, we Kingdom People need to continue to live as light in darkness.
Empires still exist. Darkness still surrounds us. And, we are still called to walk in and carry the light in the midst of it. To change the world.
That’s what Kingdom People do. They stand up to the empire of man, and bring in the Kingdom of God. Where there is injustice, they bring justice. Where there is fear, they bring love. Where there is conflict, they bring peace.
Sometimes, we do this through active engagement. Standing alongside people who are being forced from their homelands. Opening their homes to orphans, widows, and immigrants. Intervening in conflict by bringing medicine and food.
Sometimes, we do this through passive engagement. Living our lives in a way that is contrary to the culture around us. This is what Paul is talking to the Roman Church about in our text. “Quit the evil deeds of darkness,” Paul writes.
Don’t watch or read pornography.
Don’t cheat on your wife.
Don’t get drunk.
Don’t go to wild parties.
Don’t be jealous of your neighbor.
Change the culture by not participating in the culture. Where the culture isn’t in line with the Kingdom of God, don’t be a part of it. Do the opposite.
For we Kingdom People, “everyone else is doing it” is not a valid reason. We must weigh everything we do against the values of the Kingdom. We must live to bring about revolution in the empire of man. To stand firm in the face of that which is not in-line when Jesus and His Kingdom.
Let me leave you with a quote that I came across today by Bishop Robert Barron:
“I don’t think we’ll understand Advent correctly until we see it as a preparation for revolution.”
|Seven Revolutions: How Christianity Changed the World and Can Change It Again
By Mike Aquilina & James Papandrea / Image
In Seven Revolutions, authors Mike Aquilina and James Papandrea examine the practices of the early Church – a body of Christians living in the Roman Empire – and show how the lessons learned can apply to Christians living in the United States today. Through expert storytelling and historical insight, the authors show just how revolutionary Christians were against the backdrop of ancient Rome, and just how revolutionary we can be today.