Before reading this post, listen to this song.
11 This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living. 13 Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see. Don’t participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy. 14 Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires. Romans 13:11-14 (NLT)
In Part 1 we talked about the “problem” that this passage presents. “Time,” says Paul “is running out!” It’s later than it’s ever been before! Each of us is closer to our own funeral and the world is nearer its boiling point, while many so-called Christians slumber. They live like they’re going to live forever in this world and the world will never end.
So that’s the bad news. What’s the good news? Paul offers a prescription for this kind of spiritual sleepiness.
Wake up! … Take off your bad behaviors like yesterday’s dirty clothes … Put on whole set of shiny new clothes … Live decently … Don’t get drunk or have sex outside marriage… And quit posturing!
You don’t have much time, so refuse to get side-tracked by self-importance, self-centeredness, or self-gratification. You were placed here for something much better. “You,” as Mordecai said to Esther, “have come to the kingdom for such a time as this!”
It’s urgent that we live like we have a purpose here, like we are on a mission, and not just to accumulate and recreate. God doesn’t tell us “No” in order to prevent us from having fun, but because certain behaviors and attitudes impede us from fulfilling our mission.
“No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs,” says Paul in another place, “but rather tries to please his commanding officer” (2 Timothy 2:4). It’s problematic if a soldier in town drinking at the bar instead of fighting alongside his comrades on the battlefield. By not showing up he puts their lives in jeopardy. He’s got a mission and it’s not all about himself. He enlisted to serve, not to be served.
Back to the Romans passage: “This,” Paul says is “all the more urgent.” What’s the “this” to which he refers? The previous verses answer that.
8 Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law. 9 For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.” These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.
This is the “this” which is “all the more urgent,” that we love one another because love is at the core of all the commands of God. He forbids adultery, murder, theft, and covetousness, because they involve a lack of neighbor love. If you love your neighbor you won’t take from him, harm him, or steal his wife.
Therefore loving God and one another is not something––it’s everything! We avoid toxic behaviors not just to avoid stuff on the bad list, but because we love God and our neighbors. When we saturate ourselves in sinful behaviors it’s because we love ourselves more than we love God and each other. What’s “urgent” here is that we love enough to live right!
Each breath we take is nearer our last. A day is coming when there will be no more days left. Each year we live brings us closer to having no years left at all. In both a personal and global sense, it’s late–– later than it’s ever been!
The way to live when it’s as late as it is today is to live “no longer for ourselves but for him who died for us” (2 Corinthians 5:15).
If you’re snoozing through the alarm: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead and Christ will shine on you!” (Ephesians 5:14)