Sunday, August 31, 2008

God Calling

The Original Hotline

Mary Cat focused on God's call for today's sermon. Overall, she did a good job, although we did not get any enlightenment on Romans 12 9-31.
I sure would like some help with 19-20,
"19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God;* for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ 20 No, ‘if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.’"

This struck me as still being in the spirit of vengeance particularly that part about heaping burning coals on their heads through acts of kindness, and also transferring vengeance to the Lord is not the same as abolishing it from the heart.

Vengeance is such a typical human response to being wronged (and very Roman) that the writer of Romans 12 needed to explain how Christians should behave in such situations. How he got there is the unsaid part of the snippet we read on Sunday. I can only conclude it was by the example of Christ that such an unnatural response as "feed them," or "give them something to drink" could be instructed regarding one's enemies.
In this respect Christianity has something in common with the eastern religions and the principle of Ahimsa. The notion of carrying the principle of non-violence into the realm of law, justice, and politics has been the part that has been most difficult for all of the world's religions that dare to preach the principle as we have been instructed in Romans 12.

To illustrate this point witness the violence against Christians in India this past week.

WWGD (What would Gandhi Do?)


  1. This seems to be a reference to Proverbs 21-22
    21 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.
    22 In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you.

    I was taught that heaping burning coals on the head was an Egyptian ritual signifying remorse. So that this should be understood to imply causing the enemy to repentant.

  2. How odd. Let me put down my februae and savor the aroma of red hot coals on my hair, or maybe that is why all those Pharoahs appeared bald. They didn't have to shave (bronze razors were so hard to keep sharp).

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  4. Verse 18 is interesting:

    If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. (Emphasis mine)

    Paul clearly seems to be saying, we Christians are to love our enemies, but we don't have to be patsies, either.