Why is it so hard sometimes?
7 To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world.Romans 1: 7-8
We all do it. We usually put on a smile and love our neighbor as ourselves. But sometimes the barrista at Starbucks is going extra slow. Sometimes the people in the apartment next door are extra loud. Sometimes a 90-year old in a 20-year-old Buick cuts you off on your way to work and then drives 32 miles per hour in a 55 zone.
And we lose it. Maybe we physically scream, or maybe we just boil over with rage and hatred. Sometimes our first interaction with a person can be one of just utter disgust.
Now, of course, you know that’s no way to greet someone, and it sure as heaven isn’t the Christian way to greet someone. Clearly, the Christian way to greet someone you don’t like is: “Bless your heart.”
Not really. That was a joke. Please don’t hate me.
The Bible is actually replete with examples of how we might treat someone whom we’re particularly mad at (“turn the other cheek,” anyone? “Do not repay evil with evil”?), but Paul gives us a pretty clear remedy for hatred here. Now, I don’t think Paul hates the Romans at all, but look at the very first thing he says directly to them: “Grace and peace to you.”
I don’t want to waste your time this morning, and I’m sure many of you may find this supremely hoaky, but please humour me today. If someone cuts you off, or snores really loudly, or puts almond milk in your latte instead of coconut milk: direct your thoughts to that person and think loudly, “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” And try to mean it. You might find that you can love that person, just as God loved him or her so much he was willing to send his son to die for that person. And if love isn’t your immediate reaction, well. . .maybe at least you won’t hate them.
Please take the time today to stop and study the tree that is Romans 1: 7 & 8. But don’t forget to attend to the forest as well. (Was that a cringy metaphoircal imperative, because it sure felt that way.)
No seriously, this is just a gentle reminder to read the whole first chapter out loud again today. And please read today’s verses 5 times.