Thursday, September 01, 2016

Taking 31 Kingdoms

When I read Romans 12, I get a bit overwhelmed. There’s a lot there, after all.

This should not surprise us. Paul’s “therefore” in verse 1 follows not only the wonderful doxology at the end of chapter 11, but really follows logically out of the entire argument presented beginning in chapter 1 with the words, “The wrath of God is revealed ...”

It’s as if in chapter 12 he now tackles the question “How should we then live?” Okay then.

Glazing Over

Paul’s answer is not a brief one. In fact, when I read it through, I start to glaze over. There are too many logical, reasonable corollaries to God’s plan of salvation for me to process in one morning; too many ways in which I need to change to assume I’ve got them down just because I’m passingly familiar with the chapter. So now I have something to work on a day at a time for the next month; to mull over and try to put into practice.

September has only 30 days, but I’ll give you 31, since Paul does (give or take, depending how you want to break them up):
  1. Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.
  2. Do not be conformed to this world.
  3. Be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
  4. [Do] not think more highly than [you] ought to think [of yourself], but think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
  5. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them.
  6. Let love be genuine.
  7. Abhor what is evil.
  8. Hold fast to what is good.
  9. Love one another with brotherly affection.
  10. Outdo one another in showing honor.
  11. Do not be slothful in zeal.
  12. Be fervent in spirit.
  13. Serve the Lord.
  14. Rejoice in hope.
  15. Be patient in tribulation.
  16. Be constant in prayer.
  17. Contribute to the needs of the saints.
  18. Seek to show hospitality.
  19. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
  20. Rejoice with those who rejoice.
  21. Weep with those who weep.
  22. Live in harmony with one another.
  23. Do not be haughty.
  24. Associate with the lowly.
  25. Never be wise in your own sight.
  26. Repay no one evil for evil.
  27. Give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.
  28. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
  29. Never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God.
  30. If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
  31. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
The Battle for Canaan

When Joshua took the land of Canaan proper, he did so by conquering and destroying 31 different Canaanite kingsI’m not suggesting there’s any intentional correspondence, but that’s a lot of territory to conquer, and a lot of separate battles in a lot of different places.

Likewise, the Christian life is a seemingly endless series of tilts against enemies of different strengths with different strategies. Some, like the king of Jericho, hide behind their protective walls and wait for you to come after them. Other kinds of engagement occur head on.

Some battles are fought against singular enemies. At other times, four or five areas of struggle in our lives — like the Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites — decide to gang up on us simultaneously.

The story of Israel’s conquest is an interesting one. Not all their battles were won instantly or easily. Sometimes they were sold out by their own side. The strategy that worked against Jericho was no use against Ai.

Taking 31 kingdoms is a lot of work. Even when those enemies were conquered, there was more territory still to be won.

So armor up and take them as they come!

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