Sunday, March 13, 2016

Romans 12:16-18 -- On Undivided Minds and Cookies

"Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.
Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men."
Romans 12:16-18

I think this is a good reminder that it is not okay to hate, discriminate, or get revenge.  We have many ways to justify these things, and unfortunately, they aren't generally frowned upon in our society.  Even groups who are strongly against certain kinds of discrimination often discriminate against those not in their groups.  When God says "be of the same mind one toward another," I think he is saying... be the same to everyone (and not hateful same, but love-same). Don't subdivide your mind with labels and levels of preference.  Don't treat the CEO like he is golden and the janitor like he is trash.  Don't let skin color or income levels alter your ability to love and to be kind.  And "Be not wise in your own conceits": Don't let yourself think that you are better than anyone.

It's tough to do these things.  Especially the "recompense to no man evil for evil."  We usually understand after a while the one about not yelling at people who are just trying to do their jobs.  We get that we're dumping our anger on someone who doesn't deserve it, and hopefully we learn to stop... but even that statement "deserve it" in our mental vocabulary makes us think that it is okay if we find the person who *does* deserve it.  We learn this from movies and television frequently.  Someone gets shot and we think it was totally deserved.  Which is of course understandable in our society where we learn such societal values.  However, it is imperative that we recognize that those kinds of fictional ethics tend to bleed over into the non-fiction world, and that God asks us to hold ourselves to a much higher standard.  One in which we realize that, no matter what any of us "deserve," Christ paid the price for it, and in return *he* asks us to love and forgive one another.

Today, let's love.  Let's be honest in ways that can't be misunderstood.  Let's drop the Hollywood ethical code, and remember the Christ ethical code.  Let's live peaceably with all men... not just some of them.  Not just the ones that agree with us politically, or who were born in our country, or who have the same skin color or even just the ones who believe in the same God or who don't "deserve" some condemnation for sin, or who have spouted some evil.  Christ knows that despite our flaws and sins, we all need compassion, kindness, and mercy.  Let's show that to others, and make the world better, rather than returning evil and making the world worse.  Imagine... you are having a bad day, and you say something mean off the cuff.  You feel a little bad, and are thinking about apologizing the next day, but when you see the other person, they say something mean to you.  This compounds the problem, and you are less inclined to apologize.  What would happen if the person, instead of saying something mean back, brought you cookies instead?  You'd probably thank them, apologize profusely for yesterday, and look for something to do to return the favor and be nice.  ... Let's be the person with the cookies instead of the person with the mean thing to say, okay?  Let's make things better.

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