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December 8, 2017

Day Six

Hope

Romans 13:11-14

“. . . let us live honorably . . .” Romans 13:13a

If yesterday’s text, Matthew 24:36-44, teaches that Advent Hope is found in an “Attitude” of preparedness, then Apostle Paul in today’s Romans text raises the bar to an Advent Hope found in “Action.” It gets back to the truth that “what you believe effects how you behave.” For many, their belief system is filled with fears and phobias that effect their behavior. You have most likely heard of “agoraphobia,” or the fear of open spaces and groups, that causes people to stay in the house. Did you know there is also a fear called “Ecclesiophobia?” Yep — the fear of church! And if you have “logophobia” or the fear of words, you probably ought to stop reading now . . .

For some, the negative thoughts that fill them result in the action of “no-action.” They are so burdened by negative thoughts they can’t even get out of bed in the morning! But Paul urges us to “. . . wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first became believers.” (Romans 13:11b) Or, as Eugene Peterson in “The Message” puts it, “. . . don’t get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-to-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God. The night is about over, dawn is about to break. Be up and awake to what God is doing!”

Paul’s urgent Advent wakeup call is to fill our belief systems with good and courageous thinking, not fears and phobias. When we wake up each day, we should have something in mind that makes us want to leap up and get going. It seems for Paul that this is a two-step process. In Romans he states, “Let us lay aside works of darkness and put on the armor of light.” (Romans 13:12b) In other words, out with the bad, in with the good.

So, how will you start walking the walk and not just talk the talk a little more this Advent? I’ll give you an example that has helped me and a few others who have tried it. It is especially relevant during the busy holidays. You know how you feel when you are driving responsibly and someone nearly ends your life by cutting you off? Do you recall the inner burn of fear and anger that exploded in an outburst of, “You !*%&!” Change your behavior and shout, “You Child of God!” Hey it helps, and it is one way to respond to the invitation to “ . . . let us live more honorably.” Then, each day, set the bar a little higher.

Prayer: Lord, may my actions honor your Spirit. Amen.