Sometimes I read scripture and think that it is both absolutely beautiful and absolutely impossible. This Sunday’s text, Romans 12:3-21, is one of those texts. “Let love be genuine. Love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” Paul even goes on to tell us, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty give them something to drink.” What do you think? Is this beautiful? Wouldn’t it be great to live in such a reality together? This definitely seems truthful. Or in other words, this is a picture of true community in God.
But is it possible? Is the Bible full of nice sentiments that we can never truly hope to experience or live within together? Paul (nor Jesus) seems to think such a life together is impossible. In fact, these pictures of reality are all over the place in both Jesus’ teachings and Paul’s letters. Plus, there is no doubt that such a communal reality together in God would be grace. It would be an absolute gift from God to all of us to be a part of a people in God who let their love be genuine and love one another with mutual affection. Such a church, such a community would be an unbelievable gift. But, it is not just a gift to us, but a gift to the world. It would be an invitation to everyone, no matter who they are, to be a part of what God is doing in the world. It would be an invitation to all to enter God’s grace.