The following selected lines from Chapter 12 of The Letter Of The Apostle Paul To The Church In Rome (57-58 A. D.), The Jerusalem Bible, Doubleday & Company, 1966, speak to me, especially in light of the divisiveness these days (I want to say dark days) of self-righteous (aren’t we all) condemnation of current viewpoints on the “wrong” side of Truth. I, of course, like you, know the Truth.
Well . . . I’m no preacher. Just ask, if you can find any of them, my 1964-1970 high-school, college, and Marine pals–those still alive and at the moment still mostly free of Alzheimer’s.
I love Saint Paul, how human his letters reveal him, how his letter to the Christian converts in Rome shapes his argument of what he wants to be, what he knows can be striven for only through God’s mercy and grace, knows is the hope for each of us becoming what St. Francis of Assisi prayed for: “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.” I’m certain the apostle Paul arrived at that peace (after all, he is a saint). I’m working on it (not sainthood). I doubt I have enough time left.
Saint Paul: Live At Peace
Do not model yourselves on the behavior of the world
around you, but let your behavior change,
modeled by your new mind. This is the only way
to discover the will of God and know what is good,
what it is that God wants, what is the perfect thing to do.
In the light of the grace I have received,
I want to urge each of you not to exaggerate
your real importance. All of us, in union with Christ,
form one body, and as parts of it we belong
to each other. Our gifts differ according to
the grace given us.
Do not let your love be a pretense,
but sincerely prefer good to evil. Love each other.
Have a profound respect for each other.
Rejoice with those who rejoice and
be sad with those in sorrow. Treat everyone
with equal kindness; never be condescending
but make real friends with the poor.
Resist evil and conquer it with good.
Do all you can to live at peace with everyone.
This is basically the admonition Pastor John Moore delivers to those of us gathered at the tables, noontime each Friday before the meal at City Light Community Ministries, First Baptist Church, Abilene, Texas. He almost makes me believe I might not judge and find wanting those individuals who dismiss my university, democratic, open-minded-religious, homeless-on-the-streets, and people-of-multiple-color friends.
Almost. Pray for me.