Gospel: Matthew 16:21-28
Reading: Romans 12:9-18
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“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”
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One of the words that comes up most often when people try to characterize God is “big.” We use words like almighty, all-powerful. We talk about the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. And that works for us. We like our big God. We want a big God. But sometimes what we want isn’t quite the same as the way things really are.
Jesus reminds us today that when the Kingdom of God comes, it’s not going to look powerful and shiny and regal. It’s going to look like a servant, and like denying yourself and taking up a cross. He says that to find your life you have to lose it first.
There are two sides: the way we want things to be and the way they really are. There’s the Kingdom of God on one side, the way of the world on the other. Jesus is telling us that we have to lose our image of the way we think the Kingdom of God should be, and see it for what it really is. So then “losing and finding” means saying no to something and yes to something else.
So what are we saying no to? What things do we say yes to?
This is exactly what Paul is talking about in the Romans text.
The Kingdom of God looks a lot like love. Sincere love.
Love that serves and gives and shares. Love that calls us to rejoice and mourn with each other. Love that isn’t proud or conceited, but acts right and with peace in mind.
We’re being asked to say yes today. Say yes to humility, and no to pride. Yes to peace and no to revenge. Yes to hope and no to despair. Jesus is saying today the Kingdom of God is here and I AM IT. It’s me. I am here to bring you new life, and forgiveness and love. I said yes to you first. So now it’s your turn.
Questions to Ponder/Discuss
1. Think about what it might mean to love in the way Paul speaks of in Romans 12. What are some ways you can bring the Kingdom of God to earth here and now?
2. What are things God might be calling you to say yes to?
Take some time this week (daily, or when you can) and work through Romans 12:9-18. Take a verse or more a day, and read it, write it down, and then try to apply it to your daily activities. Examples (though not limited to these):
Verse 9: “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil, cling to what is good.” How can you apply these things today? How can you love more sincerely? What does it look like to hate what is evil and cling to what is good?
Verse 10: “Be devoted to one another in brotherly (i.e. familial) love. Honor one another above yourselves”
What does devotion look like to you? How might you devote yourself to others today? What does honoring someone over yourself look like?
And so on… keep it up all the way through verse 18, and see what happens!