Messages from Pastor Raddatz

September 06, 2020 Mount Olive Lutheran Houston TX, Other readings for today: Ezekiel 33:7-9 and Matthew 18:1-20
Fulfilling the Law in Love, Romans 13:1-10

Lord, May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer, Psalm 19:14

Dear People of God,

On this Labor Day weekend Romans 13 addresses the role of Government and the role of the Church.  He gives us suggestions to fulfill the law of love as citizens and as member of the church of Christ.

…whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.”  Romans 13:8

Have you ever thought about the responsibilities you have to fulfill?  The Government also has responsibilities.  The church and the followers of Jesus also have a responsibility to fulfill the law in love.  Paul comments on this when he says in verse 8, “…whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.” 

What is the role of Government?Vss. 1-7, THE KINGDOM OF POWER

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God established”, verse 1.  Verse 4 reads, “For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good.  But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason.  They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.”Government’s role is to provide services to its’ citizens.  Paul does not say which kinds of governments are set up by God.  A democracy is not Godlier than a Monarchy. 

The kingdom of power and our reason for following the law

Government serves with power.  It has the power to punish wrongdoers.  We do not serve as citizens out of fear but fear of imprisoned can be a curb to illegal behavior.  This passage comments on to the higher plane of motivation which is because we have a conscience.  “The purpose of conscience is to obtain knowledge, so as to know wrong from right. A person who desires to do good and to avoid evil must first discern which acts are good and which acts are evil. This discernment of good and evil applies to general concepts, as well as to particular intentions, acts, and circumstances.  (Father Ron Conte)

The role of Government is to raise taxes so that services can be given to its citizens and support can be available to establish police and sheriff departments and military power.  The church’s role is to fulfill the law of God.  God’s law is fulfilled by love.  Is the law contradictory to love?  Not to God.

What is the role of the Church, vv. 8-10, THE KINGDOM OF GRACE.

From this analysis we learn that love in the OT is basically a spontaneous feeling which impels to self-giving or, in relation to things, to the seizure of the object which awakens the feeling, or to the performance of the action in which pleasure is taken. Love is an inexplicable power of soul given in the inward person: (Dt. 6:5). One loves “with all one’s heart and soul and strength” (Dt. 6:5; 13:4) if one does justice to the feeling of love.  Ourlove of God is in response to who God is and what he has done.  Love of God directly correlates to God’s nature and not our nature.  Loving God is more about who he is than about what he expects of us.  So when a psalm refers to loving God’s law and Romans 13:9 quotes the Commandments,  the hidden reference is not to our behavior but in reference to God who established the law but who also has fulfilled the law through the good news of the Gospel.  Kittel, Gerhard; Bromiley, Geoffrey William; Friedrich, Gerhard: Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. electronic ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964-c1976, S. 1:22-23

The kingdom of Grace is the role of the church.  We do not establish armies or expect taxes from attendees, but God’s law is fulfilled because of HIS love.  All of God’s expectations of you have been fulfilled by his son.  This is the key to understanding our debts to God and our debts to one another.

How do we love when love is not enough?

Do you love in the hope to get a reaction or a response from a person?  Were you ever disappointed by their reaction?  You probably have been disappointed by another just as others have been disappointed by your attempts to love.  You do not have to live exceptionally long to realize that we do not love to get love back.  A mature love will love another because it is good to do so.

“Love is not enough” she said to me.  I was sitting in her living room.  She was not only a mother, but also a grandmother who was disappointed by two generations.  She was disappointed by her son who could not hold on to his children because of his addiction to substances and she had to raise his children which were her Grandchildren.  She was now homebound.  She had a loving husband.  They had just received the news that their grandson will be entering prison for his crime.  Her phrase “Love is not enough” was a reaction to how we love with the hopes of another growing into maturity, but she was well aware that for love to be enough the one who received love has to choose growth to maturity as a response.

Maybe you have experienced the glancing away who knew the embarrassment of their own unloving actions against you.  Rev. Dave Arch wrote, “If you've ever done someone wrong and then found yourself unable to look that person in the eye, you've experienced the power of the human conscience. It has a tremendous power over the spirit to either bring it great strength or to sap it of its power.”  www.askapastor.orgweb

We are told to “love our neighbor as yourself.  Love does no harm to a neighbor.  Love is the fulfillment of the Law” (vv. 9-10).

The expectations for love have been fulfilled by Jesus Christ.  We will always fall short because of our sinful human condition.  We are empowered to love as he loved us.  This is why there is church and government.  Neither one can do it all.  With God’s help, both Government and the Church can do a lot.  Jesus love for his father has been fulfilled.  As he said,” If you do acts of service to the least of these (the weak and the one who have no voice) you have done it unto me.”

Let us pray, heavenly father you have granted us citizenship in the kingdom of heaven and in this country where we live.  Help us, Lord, to turn from our desires for iniquity and turn to you.  In your judgement, no one is righteous, not one, but through the free gift of forgiveness you call us to forgive as you have forgiven us.  Through the sending of your son, Jesus Christ you do not want anyone to perish but to turn to you in faith. 

May we live as good citizens of the earthly kingdom to which we belong and as good citizens to the heavenly kingdom which Christ has made us part of,

Pastor John Raddatz

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