Today’s reading: Romans 15:4-13
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus… (v. 4)
By all accounts, we live in a hopeless time. At least if you listen to those who’d like us to believe that our future is doomed, our finances are doomed, our democracy-loving world is doomed, our safety and security are doomed… all the dire warnings of those who would sell us things to save us, and those who would like us to vote them into power so they can do the job.
I don’t know about you, but I think I can do without that kind of “saving.”
Unfortunately, when that message is so loud, so insistent, it is hard to ignore, and we can be guilted into buying in, voting in, by the sheer volume of the noise. Surely the strongest voice must be the right one? Surely the most convinced argument is the best one? Surely the largest majority is the winning one?
The spirit of fear is a manipulator and a mercenary: it twists truth in order to kill off hope, seeking only wealth and power. And it will do so “in God’s name” without even a flinch to give away its deception.
We do not live in a hopeless time; rather, we live on an earth that has always struggled in the balance between fright and promise, on the battlefield between fear and hope. (Maybe we were just too willing to believe that we were immune?) But the enduring God offers us not only a vision of the eternal reign of peace and justice, but encouragement for this day. Encouragement that we do not need to believe the fear-mongers, because even the so-called solutions are passing. Encouragement that unity, acceptance into a loving community founded on faith and trust in the One True Hope, is our home security. Encouragement that the voice of praise can, and always will, out-sing and out-last the voice of fear.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (v. 13)