Genuine LoveSeptember 23, 2023
Let love be genuine… Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:9, 21 ESV) How is the Christian to live in the world today? That is the focus of Paul’s encouragement to the brothers and sisters in Rome. Romans 12 and following is the practical application of the Gospel of the One who loved us with genuine love and who overcame evil with good. God calls us by His Spirit to live in the same manner with a genuine life of genuine love for all!
Here at International Lutheran Church, we have been on a journey through Paul’s first century presentation of the Christian faith to the community in Rome. Our sermon series On the Roman Road comes into the homestretch this morning as we address the never-ending need for this message to be shared, prayed and lived in our lives. In chapter 12 and following, Paul lays out the real-life application of our lives in Christ. Our faith in Jesus is lived out each day in relation to others. With the words, “Let love be genuine,” Paul summarizes what he has to say as we consider our lives in relation to our sister or brother in the faith, the community in which we live and the ruling authorities in our lives.
Fake things are not new. You may have even experienced first-hand the emptiness and pain of something that wasn’t genuine or true. Since our first parents’ fall into sin, we have been trying to cover the fact that we lost something we didn’t even know we had – a genuine relationship with God Himself. Their sin and ours has shamed us in such a way that we would rather “fake it” than face our true inner being. Only One was willing to be stripped of all His genuineness – to become what He was not so that we would be made to be something we could never be. His name is Jesus.
While our world rages and fumes in frustration, He put Himself in our place so that we could join Him in His. That is real love. That is genuine. This is why, in Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth, he would dedicate a whole chapter to essentially the same message, “Now I will show you the most excellent way” – the way of love (1 Corinthians 12:31b-13:13). When the devil, our true and genuine enemy, riles against us to get us to hate and only think of striking back, Jesus’ death and resurrection calls to us and invites us into a new way of thinking, a new way of living in Christ. Paul does not imagine this to be a simple or easy task. It is truly humbling and not something we can do in ourselves. Like Peter, we easily say no to the cross! (Matthew 16:22) But in the Spirit, as Jesus takes control of our lives, we are the ones who are truly loved. His love becomes the sole factor to our lives and our trust in Him grows. Like Jeremiah, we see that God alone is trustworthy and true. (Jeremiah 15:19-21)
Today as we remember our Baptism into Him who overcame evil with the good of His own Body on the cross, we also dedicate ourselves to “letting His love be genuine” in all we do and teach. No doubt we may be disappointed in either ourselves or those around us at some point in our lives. We do not despair. We will never be disappointed in Him who gave His life for us in love so that our love from Him and to Him would be, through and through, genuine. Let your love be genuine as He sends you into this world today! Amen!