For Sunday August 31, 2008
This passage is not just about what it means to live authentically as a Christian, but rather what it means to do this in view of God’s mercy (Rom. 12:1). One of the most important things for Christian preachers and teachers to do is to connect the what with the why. As my former pastor Stuart Briscoe likes to say, preach the imperatives in light of the indicatives. It’s one thing to proclaim “overcome evil with good”. It’s something else entirely to say “in view of God’s mercy overcome evil with good.”
God’s mercy is in our constant view in the images of the cross, the empty tomb, and the risen Christ. Every time we make some small decision which overcomes evil with good, we are merely validating what Christ has already accomplished.
If you are having a bad day, if you are suffering from evil, or don’t have the oomph to overcome evil with good, remember this: it’s already been accomplished. We are going to win this thing called life, and in this we have every right and reason to rejoice.
Georgia update: The U.S. has cancelled plans to dock the Coast Guard cutter Dallas in the Georgian port city of Poti, which continues to be occupied by the Russians, despite the fact that it is in neither breakaway region of Abkhazia or South Ossetia.
The Europeans are complaining that the Russians have claimed these two territories in violation of international law. Unfortunately, international law is something of a dubious concept. If these two regions truly want to be part of Russia rather than Georgia, then why not let them? This would be parallel to Kosovo wanting to secede from Serbia. (For that matter, if I were the Russians, I would let the Chechens go too).
However, don’t let Russia use these breakaway regions as a pretext to bring down the government of an emerging democracy, which is what its ongoing occupation of Poti signals. The U.S. currently has seven Navy ships in the Black Sea. I would like to see all seven of those ships docking in Poti today with the 82nd Airborne on standby backed by a contingent twice as large from the European Nato countries. The Caucuses and all of Eastern Europe deserve better than rule by a retreaded KGB. I would also like to see Russia formally kicked out of the G8, and the U.S. suspend it’s NATO membership until the Western Europeans decide what’s more important to them: Russian gas or the legacy of freedom.