I can vaguely remember the two largest purchases of my early years were bought on the 'lay away' plan. One was a bed when I was about 21 and the other was the diamond ring for my honey when I was about 24. I would go into the two stores when I had saved up some money and make another payment on the items. There was always a creative tension when I would leave the store. I always felt like I had taken another step toward ownership. There was also a sense of frustration, because I would have to return with more money. It seemed like I was in eternal debt to the store.
On the grand and glorious day when the last payment was made, I could walk out of the store with the prized possession. Yes, this was just before credit cards became wildly popular. It was also a way to purchase items without having to deal with interest charges. I always loved those "90 days same as cash" purchases. Debt was something to be avoided and my parents taught me the value to pay my bills and don't get inundated with debt to the point where I couldn't function.
So, along comes our word from the Word of God today and the Apostle Paul exhorts the church to be in debt....heavy debt! He begins with the statement, Let no debt remain outstanding. "Pay your bills! " Then Paul turns around and says, "Be in Debt!" "Love!"
"Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his
fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not
steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule:
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of
the law." (Romans 13:8-10, NIV)
We are less than a week away from the biggest and most hotly contested election cycle for the presidency. Our nation is divided and there is great angst among the citizens of this country. Anger, bitterness, and violence are the currencies being used day after day. Supporters of one candidate assault supporters of the other; while reprehensible things are being done between candidates.
Regardless of who emerges victorious on November 9th, 'we the people' remain a nation and need to find a way forward. Wednesday will appear from the smoke and fire of Election Day.
Jesus has some thoughts on the matter. If we are to thrive as a people of God, it will be because of our love. In a real sense, Paul was telling the church to run up the bill and be covered in debt to love one another. Imagine what our world would look like if believers in Jesus took this command to heart.
We could and should carry around a credit card that has Romans 13:8 emblazoned on it. Then we should swipe it before we open our mouths to another human being. We should strive to speak with love first before any other thought sprouts seeds of anger, bitterness, or violence. I know some are thinking of using the 'righteous anger' argument and defend their right to be obnoxious. May I suggest that the condition of our nation, dare I say our world, is a result of brash incendiary words and actions being proffered over and above the debt to love.
Jesus is the prime model we are to follow and he did not open his mouth as he was led to the cross (Isaiah 53:7). In fact, on the cross, he expressed love toward his accusers, those who brutalized him, and his executioners (Luke 23:34). Jesus ran up the bill to love and left this earthly place with a huge debt of love toward us. We have other options. We can continue to spew hate. We can disable and maim each other. The best 'godly' option is to go ahead run up the bill and be in debt to one another and do it all in love!