Third Day of Advent

And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

Romans 13:11-14 NIV

“The hour has come”

These words written by the apostle Paul over two thousand years ago still speak to us today.

He was writing to the church in Rome to encourage them to live their faith, to make their actions match their words. They were to live each day in great expectation of Jesus’ return.

If we are to understand just what Paul meant by clothing yourself with Jesus Christ then we need to go back and read the preceding verses in the chapter:

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary o submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.

This is why you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: if you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Paul begins the chapter with their relationship with the government. Ouch!

What has that to do with living my faith?

According to Paul it has everything to do with our faith walk.

If we trust God with our souls, then we must trust Him with our lives.

That means He controls every aspect of our lives: our relationships, our careers, our health, our finances, and yes, our government. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be involved. What it does mean is that we learn all that we can. We pray about the events going on in our world. We ask God for direction for our part in His plan. And then we follow where He leads us. We obey the laws passed by our representatives unless the law goes against God’s law. God is our final authority. As our final authority He will put into power those He wants in power for His purpose.

If you want to see what obedience to God’s plan looks like read the story of Joseph in Genesis. (Chapter 37-47)

At age seventeen Joseph dreamt that he would rule over his family. His brothers were not impressed. They were jealous because their father favored Joseph. They allowed their animosity to grow and one day the opportunity came for them to get their revenge and they sold him to slave traders. He landed in Egypt where he rose to a prominent position in the household of one of Pharoah’s officials. Then he was falsely accused and imprisoned. When he interpreted Pharoah’s dreams Joseph was released from prison and put in charge, second only to Pharoah. When famine was over all the land his family came to Egypt looking to obtain grain. Long story short Joseph’s dream was fulfilled and he was ruler over his family and all of Egypt. Joseph knew that what his brothers had meant for evil God had used for good.

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandments there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Paul writes of the debt of love we owe. A debt that is never paid in full because we can never out-love God.

Our world needs to see Christians living their faith; answering anger with understanding, hate with love, words of abuse with words of acceptance. We stand firm in our faith trusting God to keep us in every situation.

For we know that God can bring good out of any situation for those who love and serve Him.

The times we live in are difficult but also very exciting because every day we are another day closer to Christ’s return. We are seeing scripture come alive in the events taking place in the world today. Keep looking up!

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