B.C.P. Advent 1 Romans 13:8-14
Rom 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. 9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. 11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. 13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. 14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.
Today is the first Sunday in Advent. Advent means 'coming' and Christians remember how everything was prepared for the coming of Jesus into the world. There is also a sense in which we, as Christians, prepare to celebrate that special birthday. Furthermore we recall that there will be a second coming of Jesus. In the light of this how should we behave? This is what Paul is addressing in today's Epistle. He refers to some of the ten commandments to ascertain what God's perfect will is for people. Yesterday I picked up a church magazine and found this version of the ten Commandments in poetry;
You shall have no other God but me,
Before no idol bow your knee.
Don't take the name of God in vain,
Nor dare the Sabbath Day profane.
Give both your parents honour due,
Take heed that you no murder do.
Abstain from words and deeds unclean,
Nor steal, though you are poor and mean.
Nor make a wilful lie nor love it,
What is your neighbour's do not covet.
Ignoring the need to put God first Paul condenses even this to one saying, love one another.
St. Augustine said, 'Love God and do what you like'. Expand.
10 therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. The fist half of the commandments can be summarized by saying love God with all your being all of the time. The second half by saying love your neighbour as yourself.
This is easy to say, but impossible to do. It convicts us of our sin. The Old Testament Law was not given as a way of earning our salvation or God's favour. It was given to a people to whom he had already shown his undeserved favour to, and was the grateful conduct that God expected of his people. It pointed to their and our failure to live life God's way.
The Old Testament also convinces us that we need a saviour. One to set us free from the power of sin and one to free us from the effects of sin. We celebrate and proclaim that Jesus has done this for us in this service.
Jesus has shown God's costly love for us. We are called to respond in gratitude with lives devoted to serving and obeying him in the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul compares this to taking of an old set of clothes and putting on a new set. let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.
The things that are to be discarded are 'rioting', doing what we like, drunkenness, chambering and wantonness, sexual immorality, strife, arguments and quarrelling, and envying or jealousy. All of these things originate from a dissatisfaction with what God has given us and are rooted in selfishness, what we want, rather than what God desires.
14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.
Why should we do this? 11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.
It is now nearly 2,000 years since these words were written by Paul. It is hard for us to understand Jesus' delay in his coming. God's time clock is certainly out of sync with ours as Little Jimmy learned one day as he was laying on a hill in the middle of a meadow on a warm spring day. Puffy white clouds rolled by and he pondered their shape. Soon, he began to think about God. "God? Are you really there?" Jimmy said out loud. To his astonishment a voice came from the clouds. "Yes, Jimmy? What can I do for you?" Seizing the opportunity, Jimmy asked, "God? What is a million years like to you?" Knowing that Jimmy could not understand the concept of infinity, God responded in a manner to which Jimmy could relate. "A million years to me, Jimmy, is like a minute." "Oh," said Jimmy. "Well, then, what's a million pounds like to you?" "A million pounds to me, Jimmy, is like a penny." "Wow!" remarked Jimmy, getting an idea. "You're so generous... can I have one of your pennies?" God replied, "Sure thing, Jimmy! Just a minute."
Jesus could come any time soon, so we are to live as if he were coming this night. If we have made him our Lord and loved God and loved others then we can look forward to being united with Jesus, God the Father, God the Holy Spirit and all other believers throughout history in heaven. This is the living hope that Jesus offers those who confess that he is their Lord, not only with their lips but also with their lives.