11 As you do all this, you know what time it is. The hour has already come for you to wake up from your sleep. Now our salvation is nearer than when we first had faith. 12 The night is almost over, and the day is near. So let’s get rid of the actions that belong to the darkness and put on the weapons of light. 13 Let’s behave appropriately as people who live in the day, not in partying and getting drunk, not in sleeping around and obscene behavior, not in fighting and obsession.14 Instead, dress yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ, and don’t plan to indulge your selfish desires.
This is the Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God.
I vividly remember the first
time I heard this passage in worship. I was in college, and the night before
was a night I am not proud of. It was the beginning of a semester, and I wanted
this semester to be the most fun and exciting and memorable. That night started
with going out with friends. But as I wanted to make it as exciting and memorable
as possible, it soon turned into me going from party to party, sometimes with
friends, sometimes on my own. I drank way too much, became way too loud, and my
actions quickly became more and more rude and selfish to all who were around
me, friends and strangers. By the time I made my way back to my dorm and
sobered up a little bit, I was left deeply regretting how I had treated people
and wondering who I had become that night. Because I realized as memorable and
exciting as that night was, this is not who I want to be.
The next morning I somehow
made my way to worship. There, I heard this text from Romans 13 read and
preached. Verses 13 and 14 especially seemed like far too much of a coincidence
Let’s behave appropriately as people who live in the
day, not in partying and getting drunk, not in sleeping around and obscene
behavior, not in fighting and obsession.14 Instead,
dress yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ, and don’t plan to indulge your
It was one of those mornings
where I could swear that God was using the pastor to speak directly to me. And
I needed to hear that message that morning. It was a good wake-up call, and a
correction to my selfish actions. So I’ve remembered those verses 13 and 14
But what I didn’t pay
attention to that morning were the verses that came before them. What I didn’t
hear is the first part of the passage. I heard the correction. I heard what not
to do. But I missed the great message of hope that Paul starts this passage
11 As you do all
this, you know what time it is. The hour has already come for you to wake up
from your sleep. Now our salvation is nearer than when we first had
salvation is near. While this passage includes words of correction, its main
emphasis isn’t guilt or shame or judgment, even on people who have acted like I
have. Paul isn’t saying, “I’m better than you.”
it is a message of hope. God came to earth and lived as one of us. God healed
us and taught us and showed us a better way. God died on a cross and rose from
the grave, and lives forever. And God is inviting us to this much better party,
to this kingdom, to this life without end. We are a people of hope, Paul is
telling us, who are offered everlasting life. This is great news. This is
joyful news. This is news to sing about and dance for and share with others.
But this should also greatly change the way we live here and now.
the ancient world, there was a common phrase: “Eat, drink, and be merry, for
tomorrow we die.” Paul quotes it in 1 Corinthians 15. Jesus quotes it in a
parable about a rich man hoarding treasure for himself. It is a philosophy that
each person needs to cram in as much pleasure and toys and consumption as
possible each day, because we only have today. How we develop as people, as
communities, as relationships, none of that matters as much as getting and
consuming and experiencing as much as possible as fast as possible.
we have phrase for it. FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out. It is a funny word, but it is
also a true phenomenon in our culture. We are pressured to be having as much
fun as possible each and every day. If someone, somewhere is doing something
fun, crazy, exciting, memorable, and we are not a part of it, we think
something is wrong. If we are just having an ordinary day, with ordinary
friends and family and neighbors, our culture tells us we are doing something
am all for fun. I am all for spontaneous and exciting days. I am all for
adventures and trying new things and traveling to new places and experiencing
new cultures. But FOMO turns this into a competition. If someone is having more
fun than me, if they are going on a better vacation, attending a better party,
posting better photos and videos than me, then I am losing and they are
winning. Each day is turned from being an opportunity for growth and community
and love and peace, and instead becomes a race to do the most, consume the
most, and especially, to show off the most. FOMO keeps us from being present in
the moment. It keeps us from valuing the people who are right in front of us.
It keeps us from treating the place we are in as our community, our
neighborhood. And it actually leads all of us to having less joy, less peace,
less true fulfillment in our lives.
are people who have been given a great and eternal hope. God gave it to us
completely free, and then calls us to be in community to share it and proclaim
it and to build each other up into it. But far too often, we live the opposite
way. We live as people who are afraid of missing out. Far too often, we live as
if today is it and I need to win and I need to get as much as I can right here,
my message to you today is actually a question. What would it look like for us
to actually live into this hope? To be people of the day and the light? We
believe that we have more than just this moment. Death is not the end. There is
an eternal life, an eternal community, an eternal love. Instead of racing to
have the most, do the most, show off the most, how can we live into this hope
that will not end?
don’t have the full answer for you today. This passage calls us all to meditate
and ponder and think about that question. How do we live as people of hope. I
think the starting point, though, is to pause a little bit and notice more of
what is already here. The people. The place. The Spirit of God. It is not to
rush from one thing to the next, discarding it away. But prizing each person,
each moment, each face and name as something of eternal value.
I would like to invite us into a minute of silence. And in that silence I ask
you to reflect on this question: How can I live into the everlasting hope of
Christ? How can I live as a person believing in the good news of resurrection?