I was privileged last night to read an email from our church youth pastor, inviting me to preach on Romans 13 on the 1st of May. The night service has been preaching through the book of Romans for some weeks now.
Reading the passage caused me to think more about the Apostle Paul and other Biblical writers and the various downfalls of communicating through the written word as against face to face communication… and so I wrote a post titled Would we understand Scripture differently if the authors used emoticons ? 🙂
I believe that to fully understand the Epistles and what is written in them; we must understand the author through the narrative stories. For it is within the narrative stories that we can visualize and understand the authors emotions, mindsets and modus of ministry. We can understand how Christ challenged and transformed their lives.
And so we come to Romans 13. We can read it and other passages like it through the lenses of rules and regulations and continue to think these are things we must do and in doing so we can create a stern picture of Paul the domineering lecturer. … Or we can read about the legalistic Pharisee who went about persecuting the early church; thinking he was pleasing God… who encountered the living Christ.
This encounter of God’s love changed him in a way that revolutionized and changed his life. And through understanding Paul’s experience of God’s love, through understanding Paul’s own radical change – we can then understand more deeply what Paul is talking about when he speaks about there being two ways to live.
We can live the way of LOVE – or we can live the way of HATRED. Love or hatred towards God, towards self and towards others. And I believe that Paul is urging people to live a life of love – because he himself was radically changed through experiencing Christ’s love.