A Christian’s Duty

A sermon on a Christian’s duty, based on Romans 13:7-14 (Proper 18A).

Scripture: Romans 13:7-14

‘Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honour, then honour.

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.  The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”  Love does no harm to a neighbour. Therefore love is the fulfilment of the law.

And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already 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 armour of light.  Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing 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 flesh.’  Romans 13:7-14 [NIV]

Context/Structure

Chapters 13 and 14 of the Letter to the Roman church deal with issues, as follows:

  • The Christian and the State –13:1-7.
  • Christian Duty –13:8-14.
  • Balancing Liberty and Charity in the community–14:1-15:13. 

Exegesis: a Christian’s Duty

Verses 8-10

What single guiding principle should control the Christian’s life in society?

“Love.”  Not a mushy emotion, but an endless debt of charity to others.  Not just to other Christians, but to all people, particularly those in need.  We ‘love’ (care for) ourselves, constantly, faithfully to the end of our lives – for example, we breathe in and out!

Verses 11-14

C.f. Romans 12:1 ‘Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.’

A motive for why we should live like this.

What further motive does he present here?

We now live in the age of salvation.  People no longer need to get what they deserve – God’s grace through Jesus can save all.  Therefore, we are motivated to live as generously. 

No further actions need to take place to fulfil God’s plan for humankind.  None of us know when the last days will be – except that for some of us they will be soon.

What will wearing the ‘armour of light’ mean for us, both positively and negatively? 

We have nothing to fear from living openly and plainly.  Christians do not need to play games with God or with each other.

Conclusion

We do not have the option to be ‘economical with the truth’ for our convenience! Christians may not hide their faith or stop doing their duty. This may bring trouble from those who don’t want to hear about human shortcomings, or that we can live a righteous or holy life only in God’s mercy.

March on the Deniers!

I am pleased to announce that my short story ‘March on the Deniers!’ is being published.

FICTION on the WEB

Excited, or what? You guessed – I’m excited!

The story will appear in FICTION on the WEB, which is run by Charlie Fish, a short story writer and screenwriter – thanks, Charlie! I will let him tell you about his site:

FICTION on the WEB is a labour of love. Every single story on here is hand-picked and carefully edited by me. I don’t have a staff, and I don’t make any money. I do this because I want to give authors a chance to get their work out there, and I love sharing great stories with the world.

FICTION on the WEB has been online since 1996, which makes it the oldest short stories website on the Internet. Hundreds of stories have been enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of readers. This new incarnation of the site aims to take advantage of the latest trends in connectivity while keeping things nice and simple.”

If you want to support Charlie you can do so on his Patreon site.

What’s it all about?

‘March on the Deniers!’ is set in the delightfully-named suburb of Nudgee, near Brisbane, Queensland. It is a climate-fiction (“Cli-Fi”) piece, but I’ve used humour to try and avoid being preachy. The humour is quite dark, and this is not a ‘G’-rated story.

I find having a definite location for a story helps, so the image at the head of this page is a little map of Nudgee after some sea-level rise and storm surge. As you can see, nearby Brisbane Airport is long gone! The flood map is generated by firetree.net, and you can find it here.

Monday, June 3rd

Yep, ‘March on the Deniers!’ will appear on this date, so go and have a read – and leave me some comments, please!

Best Regards, Simon

P.S. Sign on for regular, free speculative fiction Stories here!

Strength and Authority

A message contrasting God’s pure, unblemished strength & authority with the way humans corrupt these blessings, based on Matthew 23:1-12 (Proper 26A).

Introduction

After the Pharisees had finished arguing with Jesus he was able to teach the disciples/people.

  • The key to understanding the Pharisees is that they were politicians!
  • Many people justifiably fear human power and authority, from experience; sadly, they assume that God will be like that, so they fear or reject God.

Teaching on Authority 

Jesus teaches us to obey the religious leaders, but not to live like them.  They have compromised their principles to gain and keep power.

  • Instead, we are to avoid worldly power and status, seek service and be modest.
  • Yesterday was All Saints Day, when we traditionally celebrate the heroes of the Faith.  Some were powerful leaders, some suffered terrible things.  All served.
  • How do we understand this?  What should we do? Is there a balance?

A Poem about Strength

The Prayer of an Unknown Confederate Soldier:

I asked God for strength that I might achieve.
I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health that I might do greater things.
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked for riches that I might be happy.
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men.
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life.
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I asked for, but everything I hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am, among all men, most richly blessed.

Conclusion & Application 

So, human power is not the answer. This is good news for us who are powerless!  Yet we are not powerless, we: 

  • Have the power to build up or tear down with our words.
  • Can welcome or reject new people.
  • May smile or frown, encourage and sympathise or ignore.
  • Can pray, lift others to God for blessing, or fail to do so.

We are still responsible to God for our attitudes, words and actions.