The Missing Piece


We truly live in a curious age. It claims to be the most sophisticated age in history what with the ever-growing ability of science to understand the workings of nature and the material world. We are making stupendous advances in medicine and even seem to be on the brink of curing cancers and other ailments that plague mankind. We are traveling in space and peering into the very depths of it. We are creating new technologies that promise to improve our lives at an astonishing rate and yet, we are not happy. You see, science and technology, for all of their prowess to manipulate matter, have failed to bring about the things we desire the most; things like world peace, universal justice, or human equality. Indeed, it could be argued that much of our scientific and technological prowess has made things worse. What is missing then?

What is missing is a recognition of the spiritual reality that governs human nature. What is missing is our God-given and universally shared, common sense. It may sound too simple, maybe too naive to say this, but simplicity is the mother of all truth, goodness, and beauty. The scriptures are astounding in their simplicity and their common sense. Maybe that is why our scientific and technological age, which takes such pride in solving complex material and technical problems, is unable to “see” the wisdom that the scriptures puts before our very eyes.

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Today’s passage is a perfect example for us to contemplate. “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” It is impossible, logically, to argue the negative of these two statements. But, then, sin can never be accused of being “logical,” can it. Common sense, on the other hand, is nothing less than logical. The real mystery, then, is why do we not willingly and happily choose to live in accord with our God-given common sense? This is especially so for we Christians who have been shown the wisdom of this common sense by Jesus Christ himself. Our shared, universal common sense is directly related to the will and the wisdom of God. The problem is not God, then, or our shared common sense. Our suffering is not the result of God’s will, it is the result of our refusal to submit to any other will but our own. It is the result of ignoring the common sense God gave us. And we see the consequences of such willfulness every day, both close to home and on the worldwide stage.

We have to ask ourselves: What would the world be like if we Christians, over 2 billion of us in the world today, were actually living according to the will of God as reflected in today’ passage from Paul’s Letter to the Romans? What if a critical mass of us were actually devoting ourselves to one another in brotherly and sisterly love, actually honoring all others above our own selves? The pagan Romans were stunned by the early Christians among them. They said of them, “Behold, how these Christians love one another.” Today, this day, the world, whether it knows it or not, desperately needs to see Christians witnessing to the love of God in this way. Cyprian, an early Church Doctor, wrote in a letter to one, Donatus, in the third century: “It is a really bad world, Donatus, an incredibly bad world. Yet in the midst of it I have found a quiet and holy people…They are despised and persecuted, but they care not. They have overcome the world. These people, Donatus, are the Christians—and I am one of them.” And so it should be with all who call themselves Christian today. Jesus has called us to live this way, not just towards those we love, or those of our faith, or of our denomination, or of our race, or of our language. He even calls us to be this way toward our enemies. This is the common sense that the world needs. This is the common sense that is of God. This is the common sense that God has called Christians to live out of in the world every day.

Lord, help us to not only see the wisdom of this passage today, but grace us with the courage to live it faithfully and truthfully with all others. Make us your true instruments of love, mercy, peace, justice, compassion, forgiveness and hope in this suffering world. We ask all of this in your name, Jesus. Amen!

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.