This section of the Book of Romans is an urgent appeal. Christians live in the already/not yet tension between the advent of Christ that inaugurates the kingdom of God and the final consummation of God’s kingdom at the end of history, Paul connects the love commands with the eschatological hope. Salvation is nearer. The end of history is pictured as the return of Christ, which Paul believed to be near. This belief is seen again in 1 Corinthians and Thessalonians. These are considered to be somewhat excursive, interpreting the word near as the near end. Near is the same word for the dawning of the kingdom of God that is used in the Gospel of Mark.
So are we approaching the end? Is the end near? As we see some of the devastation and horror in the world, some people believe this to be true. Others do not and some even question the possibility. Yet, without question Paul did fear that the end was near and sent out an urgent appeal to believers. Whether we believe the end is near or not, the words of verse 12 ring beautifully true to us as Christians.
Christian existence is like living in the time of early dawn. It is still night, the old age is still with us, the sun has not yet come up, but in the east the sky is already becoming bright as the signal that the new day is dawning. Christians are those who know what time it is, that the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining, and who thus orient their lives to the dawning new age, rather than the lame-duck administration of darkness that is already passing away.
Dawn is the most splendid and glorious time of the day. The day is fresh and new and filled with possibilities. It has yet to unfold, but brings a new leaf, another chance, a new hope and the light top see once again. As the purple and gold beams touch the sky, we see the promise of a new day. A new day filled with wonder and joy - a day in which we can cast off the darkness and follow the ways of our Lord.
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