Father Santosh Madanu: The Debt of Love

Our preaching series on St. Paul’s letter to the Romans continues today. Sermon delivered on Trinity 13A, Sunday, Sept. 6, 2020 at St. Augustine’s Anglican Church, Westerville, OH.

If you prefer to listen to the audio podcast of today’s sermon, click here.

Lectionary texts: Exodus 12.1-14; Psalm 149; Romans 13.8-14; Matthew 18.15-20.

Prayer: Lord Jesus we thank you for choosing St. Paul the Apostle, who inspires and encourages us to have passionate love towards God and genuine love towards one’s neighbor.  Bless our family of St. Augustine to be changed by God to make a difference for God

Even we write millions of books about love of God- Jesus Christ and teach and preach millions times about love of neighbor as yourself, still there is message yet to preach about love of God and love of neighbor.  Because the infinite love, God the Father has for us, and the reality of love of neighbor has  to be taken not as a dream or ideal but the authentic nature of God that we need to have that should enable us to share our goodness, kindness, concern and love to our fellow human beings.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

What Jesus Christ said about the love of Neighbor as the second  greatest commandment, St. Paul repeats it, saying any other commandments are summed up in this word, “ Love your neighbor as yourself”………..

What does it mean?

True Christianity is based on the realistic world. Love of neighbor is not a great idea or ideal like communism.  Communists think of that the rich share their wealth with the poor. It should not be taken as a beautiful ideal commandment. But it should be taken as great commission one has to practice indeed.

If at least half of the Christians in the world taken it and practiced it in their lives- embracing all human beings with the sincere love, there will be transformation of human beings and the world will be changed into happiest place in turn it becomes heaven on earth.

A measure of self-respect may come from living according to the twin principles, “owe nothing to anyone,” and “no one owes me anything.

The apostle Paul speaks to the Christian community in Rome; Romans 13:8-14. There, he calls believers to live according to the principle that one obligation can never be settled: the debt of love.

Paul unfolds his gospel of grace in chapters 1-11. In light of that gospel, he calls his audience to offer their bodies “as a living sacrifice” (12:1-2). The rest of chapters 12-13 begin to show the practical outworking of sacrificial living. Paul’s audience can begin to see what it means to “be transformed by the renewing of [their] minds” so as to “discern what the will of God is” (12:2).

It means thinking and acting in a way so as not to please oneself but others (verses 3-8), and it means making one’s love for others genuine (verses 9-21). Paul addresses the Christian community’s relationship to governing authorities in chapter (13:1-7), recalling his appeal, “If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (12:18). Now in 13:8-14, he recapitulates the theme of love for others. This sets the tone for the exhortations of chapters 14-15, in which Paul calls stronger and weaker believers to live together in mutual love (14:14).

The catchword “owe” connects 13:7 to 13:8. Paul shifts from addressing obligations to the governing authorities to addressing obligations to one’s neighbor. His audience is to have no outstanding debts except to love one another. The reason for this debt is, “for the one who loves another has fulfilled (pleroo) the law” (verse 8b).

Paul clearly means the Mosaic Law, because he lists four of the Ten Commandments: do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, and do not covet. It may seem that he contradicts what he went to great lengths to establish earlier in the letter, that through Christ, believers have died to the law to live anew in the Spirit (7:4-6).

Paradoxically, however, believers have died to the law so that the law may be fulfilled in them. Paul’s audience may recall the last time he appealed to a commandment. In 7:7, he explained how sin took advantage of the commandment, “You shall not covet,” to produce covetousness.

Nevertheless, he says, the law itself is not equated with sin, but is “holy and righteous and good.” Rather, sin is what makes the commandments deadly (7:11). The solution, then, is not to dispose of the law altogether, but to deal with sin.

God sent Jesus to break the relentless hold of sin and death over human beings, “in order that the requirement of the law might be fulfilled (pleroo) in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:4; see 13:8b). For those who are in Christ and living by the Spirit, Paul can now say that, “You shall not covet,” with the other community-oriented commands listed, is constitutive of the law of love (13:11-14).

This is what Jesus said: All the law and the prophets hang on two commands, love God and love your neighbor (Matthew 22:34-30; see also John 13:34-35). It is also what Jesus himself did.  Paul presents Christ himself as the example to follow: “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, Jesus lived for the sake of others, making his love for others genuine at the cross. Jesus says Love one and another as I have loved you.

In 13:11-14, Paul shifts the vision of his audience to see the command to love one’s neighbor in light of the future day of salvation (see 8:18-25). He writes of the salvation approaching “us,” highlighting its community orientation. The appeal to awaken from sleep and lay aside the deeds of darkness evokes the appeal not to be conformed to “this world/age” (aion) in 12:1-2.

Paul also writes about this idea elsewhere, explaining that Jesus “gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age” (aion; Galatians 1:4). Those who are in Christ belong to a new age with new values. 

Since believers belong to the age of light and day, they are to put on the armor of light (verse 12). This is synonymous with putting on the Lord Jesus Christ (verse 14). In the context, to put on Christ is to imitate him in loving one’s neighbor through self-sacrificial service. The love that believers express is a weapon against the darkness and the flesh as the community moves together towards the day of salvation.

The debt of love can never be settled because we grow up into the salvation that is ours in Christ by loving our neighbor through the work of the Spirit. The working out of our salvation is a community undertaking, making impossible for us to live as free agents.

For salvation is near to us now St. Paul says.  What does that mean?

It means when I believe Jesus is real, he is my Lord and my savior,

It means when I believe the teaching of Jesus Christ and the Bible are living word.

It means when I believe that Jesus died for my sins on the cross and rose on the third day

It means when I transform my life and put on Christ

And it means when I love my neighbor as I love myself.  This is what it meant to be salvation is near to me.

Let us hold fast the salvation that is given as a gift right now.

Let us reflect the word of God from the book of Exodus of today’s reading because it is very relevant in today’s situation – Covid 19:

God the Yahweh, made true indelible mark on the people of Israel with the event of Passover- It is the Passover of the Lord because he alone is true living God. Our God is very clear about executing judgement on Idol worship and worshiping other gods like Hindus, who has thousands of gods like Ganesh, Rama, Kristina, Venteshvarudu, Vishnu etc.

God the Yahweh says “the blood shall be sign for you where you live” The blood of Jesus Christ on the cross is the only sign that we live.  For we believe in His justification, Jesus made satisfaction on behalf of all humanity and washed away the sin of the world through His precious blood.  That is why we remember and celebrate every Sunday this Lord’s Supper- the Eucharist.

God the Father says” I will pass over you and no plague shall destroy you”.  Yes, God the Father is passing over us – over St. Augustine Family.  Be prepared to welcome Him.  Because, we need this plague, Covid-19 should be destroyed and we will be saved.  This day, Sunday. September 6/2020 should be the day of remembrance for us.  We celebrate it as a festival to the Lord today.  For the Lord delivered from this Covid19.

Prayer: May the indwelling holy spirit direct us to take the commission of Jesus to love our neighbor as ourselves and to make the difference in the lives of many. And to live like Jesus, love like Jesus and not to water down our own witness to Jesus Christ.

Prayer: Lord Jesus we thank you for choosing St. Paul the Apostle, who inspires and encourages us to have passionate love towards God and genuine love towards one’s neighbor.  Bless our family of St. Augustine to be changed by God to make a difference for God

Even we write millions of books about love of God- Jesus Christ and teach and preach millions times about love of neighbor as yourself, still there is message yet to preach about love of God and love of neighbor.  Because the infinite love, God the Father has for us, and the reality of love of neighbor has  to be taken not as a dream or ideal but the authentic nature of God that we need to have that should enable us to share our goodness, kindness, concern and love to our fellow human beings.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

What Jesus Christ said about the love of Neighbor as the second  greatest commandment, St. Paul repeats it, saying any other commandments are summed up in this word, “ Love your neighbor as yourself”………..

What does it mean?

True Christianity is based on the realistic world. Love of neighbor is not a great idea or ideal like communism.  Communists think of that the rich share their wealth with the poor. It should not be taken as a beautiful ideal commandment. But it should be taken as great commission one has to practice indeed.

If at least half of the Christians in the world taken it and practiced it in their lives- embracing all human beings with the sincere love, there will be transformation of human beings and the world will be changed into happiest place in turn it becomes heaven on earth.

A measure of self-respect may come from living according to the twin principles, “owe nothing to anyone,” and “no one owes me anything.

The apostle Paul speaks to the Christian community in Rome; Romans 13:8-14. There, he calls believers to live according to the principle that one obligation can never be settled: the debt of love.

Paul unfolds his gospel of grace in chapters 1-11. In light of that gospel, he calls his audience to offer their bodies “as a living sacrifice” (12:1-2). The rest of chapters 12-13 begin to show the practical outworking of sacrificial living. Paul’s audience can begin to see what it means to “be transformed by the renewing of [their] minds” so as to “discern what the will of God is” (12:2).

It means thinking and acting in a way so as not to please oneself but others (verses 3-8), and it means making one’s love for others genuine (verses 9-21). Paul addresses the Christian community’s relationship to governing authorities in chapter (13:1-7), recalling his appeal, “If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (12:18). Now in 13:8-14, he recapitulates the theme of love for others. This sets the tone for the exhortations of chapters 14-15, in which Paul calls stronger and weaker believers to live together in mutual love (14:14).

The catchword “owe” connects 13:7 to 13:8. Paul shifts from addressing obligations to the governing authorities to addressing obligations to one’s neighbor. His audience is to have no outstanding debts except to love one another. The reason for this debt is, “for the one who loves another has fulfilled (pleroo) the law” (verse 8b).

Paul clearly means the Mosaic Law, because he lists four of the Ten Commandments: do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, and do not covet. It may seem that he contradicts what he went to great lengths to establish earlier in the letter, that through Christ, believers have died to the law to live anew in the Spirit (7:4-6).

Paradoxically, however, believers have died to the law so that the law may be fulfilled in them. Paul’s audience may recall the last time he appealed to a commandment. In 7:7, he explained how sin took advantage of the commandment, “You shall not covet,” to produce covetousness.

Nevertheless, he says, the law itself is not equated with sin, but is “holy and righteous and good.” Rather, sin is what makes the commandments deadly (7:11). The solution, then, is not to dispose of the law altogether, but to deal with sin.

God sent Jesus to break the relentless hold of sin and death over human beings, “in order that the requirement of the law might be fulfilled (pleroo) in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:4; see 13:8b). For those who are in Christ and living by the Spirit, Paul can now say that, “You shall not covet,” with the other community-oriented commands listed, is constitutive of the law of love (13:11-14).

This is what Jesus said: All the law and the prophets hang on two commands, love God and love your neighbor (Matthew 22:34-30; see also John 13:34-35). It is also what Jesus himself did.  Paul presents Christ himself as the example to follow: “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, Jesus lived for the sake of others, making his love for others genuine at the cross. Jesus says Love one and another as I have loved you.

In 13:11-14, Paul shifts the vision of his audience to see the command to love one’s neighbor in light of the future day of salvation (see 8:18-25). He writes of the salvation approaching “us,” highlighting its community orientation. The appeal to awaken from sleep and lay aside the deeds of darkness evokes the appeal not to be conformed to “this world/age” (aion) in 12:1-2.

Paul also writes about this idea elsewhere, explaining that Jesus “gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age” (aion; Galatians 1:4). Those who are in Christ belong to a new age with new values. 

Since believers belong to the age of light and day, they are to put on the armor of light (verse 12). This is synonymous with putting on the Lord Jesus Christ (verse 14). In the context, to put on Christ is to imitate him in loving one’s neighbor through self-sacrificial service. The love that believers express is a weapon against the darkness and the flesh as the community moves together towards the day of salvation.

The debt of love can never be settled because we grow up into the salvation that is ours in Christ by loving our neighbor through the work of the Spirit. The working out of our salvation is a community undertaking, making impossible for us to live as free agents.

For salvation is near to us now St. Paul says.  What does that mean?

It means when I believe Jesus is real, he is my Lord and my savior,

It means when I believe the teaching of Jesus Christ and the Bible are living word.

It means when I believe that Jesus died for my sins on the cross and rose on the third day

It means when I transform my life and put on Christ

And it means when I love my neighbor as I love myself.  This is what it meant to be salvation is near to me.

Let us hold fast the salvation that is given as a gift right now.

Let us reflect the word of God from the book of Exodus of today’s reading because it is very relevant in today’s situation – Covid 19:

God the Yahweh, made true indelible mark on the people of Israel with the event of Passover- It is the Passover of the Lord because he alone is true living God. Our God is very clear about executing judgement on Idol worship and worshiping other gods like Hindus, who has thousands of gods like Ganesh, Rama, Kristina, Venteshvarudu, Vishnu etc.

God the Yahweh says “the blood shall be sign for you where you live” The blood of Jesus Christ on the cross is the only sign that we live.  For we believe in His justification, Jesus made satisfaction on behalf of all humanity and washed away the sin of the world through His precious blood.  That is why we remember and celebrate every Sunday this Lord’s Supper- the Eucharist.

God the Father says” I will pass over you and no plague shall destroy you”.  Yes, God the Father is passing over us – over St. Augustine Family.  Be prepared to welcome Him.  Because, we need this plague, Covid-19 should be destroyed and we will be saved.  This day, Sunday. September 6/2020 should be the day of remembrance for us.  We celebrate it as a festival to the Lord today.  For the Lord delivered from this Covid19.

Prayer: May the indwelling holy spirit direct us to take the commission of Jesus to love our neighbor as ourselves and to make the difference in the lives of many. And to live like Jesus, love like Jesus and not to water down our own witness to Jesus Christ.

 In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen