Sermon on Sunday, Feb. 18 on Romans 13:11-14:4
We are about to enter into the most rigorous time of the year for us. Not only in terms of extra church services. Not only in terms of dietary restrictions. But most importantly in terms of spiritual growth and development.
Spiritual doesn’t mean something on the inside and private. Spiritual includes both physical and emotional life. Our spiritual life encompasses the whole of us, the whole being.
Great Lent is meant to test us, it should test us, so that we would recalibrate our life back to Christ, just in case our spiritual compass went off track.
St Paul, even though he was not talking about Great Lent specifically in today’s Epistle, says, “You know what time it is, it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep” (Romans 13:11). We cannot afford to be sluggish in our spiritual life, we cannot afford to neglect it.
And now the Great Lent is coming, which basically symbolizes our life. During Great Lent we prepare to meet the resurrected Lord on Pascha. And that’s exactly what we are doing our whole life, this is the only reason we have life – to prepare to meet the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ and enter into His eternal joy.
It is time to wake from sleep, St Paul continues, because “salvation is closer to us now than when we became believers” (Romans 13:11). When we entered the Church, when we were baptized, we began our journey to Christ. It’s like marathon – at the start the runner is still 26 miles away, but with each mile the finish line gets closer.
When we were baptized, salvation was far away, but with each day of our life in Christ, with each day of our life following Christ’s great commandment to love God and our neighbors as ourselves, salvation is closer and closer.
That’s why we cannot afford to waste our days – a wasted day is a wasted opportunity to get closer to salvation. St Paul provides some examples of how we waste our days, he talks about things that we, as Christians, cannot associate with. He says, “Let us live honorably, not in reveling,” meaning excessive and immoral partying; and not in “drunkenness, or sexual immorality, or lust, and not in quarreling and jealousy” (Romans 13:13).
There is not need, I think, to explain what these things are. Unfortunately, they need no introduction for us. Drunkenness, sexual immorality, and lust are big and serious sins. Perhaps we could say that we avoid them, most of the time. Perhaps, we stayed away from these deadly sins. But what about quarreling, arguing, and jealousy? They are listed along side those serious sins. Does it mean they are as serious?
The answer is yes. We can see where arguing and jealousy can lead – look at what is going on in our nation – we cannot stop arguing, we cannot stop pointing fingers and blaming others, and we cannot stop being jealous of what others have and we don’t.
Quarreling and jealousy are destructive. They destroy societies, they destroy our souls, they throw our spiritual life out of whack.
During this Great Lent, let us re-orient our lives back to Christ. Let us work on arguing less, and supporting each other more. Let us give thanks to the Lord for what we have, and not be jealous of the things we wish we had. And let us be closer to our salvation at the end of Lent, than we are at the beginning.