Beloved: Reflection 2


Read Romans 12:3-18

Pray that the Lord will open your mind and heart to hear His voice.

How can we show affection to one another in a culture that thrives on division?

No one will argue that the last three years have made people unified, bonded, and more committed to loving when the contrary is demonstrably true. Pew research found that 88% of people in the United States think the population is more divided than before the coronavirus pandemic. The New York Times reported that 19% of Americans say that political ideologies created rifts between families and friends. Fully 48% of polled people said that political affiliation determined whether a person was good. Two pastors in Columbia Missouri started a podcast in 2021 to address the hot topics that divide people, especially in the Church. In only 14 months, Truth Over Tribe has reached the top 25 of Apple’s new commentary podcasts and the two published a book in 2022 to directly address tribalism in the Church, saying, “The greatest influence on Christians should be Jesus.” When partisan identities disrupt relationships, the love of God is not present. 

When Paul exhorted his readers to “love one another with brotherly affection” he was speaking to a divided people. Jews and Gentiles had different opinions about living in Rome as followers of the Way. Rome was segregated by class: senators, patricians, soldiers, plebians, freemen, and slaves–and women were at the very bottom of the social ladder. The early church, however, was made up of all classes, with the people equally called to receive grace. The tension between the church and the culture was not so different than today. The solution for today is the same as in the first century: treat one another with familial affection because God loves everyone equally (Galatians 3:28) even though we have diverse points of view.

This section in Romans is practical: outdo one another in showing honor, serve the Lord together, be constant in prayer, overcome evil with good, and do everything in your power to live peaceably with your brothers and sisters in Christ. Jesus doesn’t require a certain brand of politics, worldview, or opinion for people to follow him. Considering the diversity of his twelve disciples, it is more likely that he likes multiple perspectives and ways of knowing. As Jesus’ followers, we should be quick to listen; it’s how we understand the stories of others, find the common ground, and begin to affectionately embrace members of God’s family, the Church.

Journal a response to the Father recognizing His great affection for you. List some ways you can put affection into action.

For further reflection, contemplate 1 Peter 1:13-25 and Colossians 3:1-17

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