Pastor Mark’s eNote – Apostolic Resolutions
Have you had time yet to break any of your resolutions for 2017? If so, let me suggest some replacements–something biblical. No, I’m not going to insist you read the entire Bible this year (though you might want to check out our Growth Groups as a good way to start: www.hmumc.org/growthgroups).
Today I want you to take a look at just a few chapters of one book. Those chapters come at the close of Paul’s Letter to the Romans.
Start at the beginning of chapter 12 (My translations here are all NRSV, unless otherwise noted). “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds,” Paul writes in verse 2. OK, I admit that’s a pretty broad resolution, but wait, he gets a bit more specific.
He starts by bringing us all down a notch or two: “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think” (v. 3). Instead, Paul says, consider the needs of the people around you. “Let love of the Christian community show itself in mutual affection. Esteem others more highly than yourself” (v. 10, REB). Now, that doesn’t mean you should spend the next year putting yourself down. To the contrary, Paul wants you to know you are God’s gift to the church, a wondrous part of the body of Christ, with important gifts to share. But share you should.
Paul follows with a series of wonderful admonitions, each a noble resolution for 2017:
“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (12:15).
“Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are” (12:16).
“If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (13:18).
“Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions” (14:1).
“Let us, then, pursue the things that make for peace and for mutual upbuilding” (14:19).
“In a word, accept one another as Christ accepted us, to the glory of God” (15:7, REB).
Does this still seem a pretty formidable list? Fear not, for all these resolutions can be summarized in a word, Paul says. Love. “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law” (13:10). And that, in the end, is a resolution and a truth that can transform your mind and even the world around you.