Influenced by parents who were strong believers in Jesus, track star Jesse Owens lived as a courageous man of faith. During the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Owens, one of the few African Americans on the US team, received four gold medals in the presence of hate-filled Nazis and their leader, Hitler. He also befriended fellow athlete Luz Long, a German. Surrounded by Nazi propaganda, Owens’s simple act of living out his faith impacted Luz’s life. Later, Long wrote to Owens: “That hour in Berlin when I first spoke to you, when you had your knee upon the ground, I knew you were in prayer . . . . I think I might believe in God.”
Owens demonstrated how believers can answer the apostle Paul’s charge to “hate what is evil” and be “devoted to one another in love” (Romans 12:9–10). Though he could have responded to the evil around him with hate, Owens chose to live by faith and show love to a man who would later become his friend and eventually consider belief in God.
As God’s people commit to being “faithful in prayer” (v. 12), He empowers us to “live in harmony with one another” (v. 16).
When we depend on prayer, we can commit to living out our faith and loving all who are made in God’s image. As we cry out to God, He’ll help us break down barriers and build bridges of peace with our neighbors.
How can you build a bridge of peace between you and a neighbor? When have you seen your faithfulness in prayer bear fruit?
Romans 12:9–21 is a difficult passage to outline—like the snippets of sayings in the book of Proverbs. But Paul is still on the subject of a renewed mind and a transformed life (12:1–2). And the central focus is love—the priority of love in the life of a believer in Jesus (v. 9). The clearest demonstration of a Christlike life is Christlike love. A transformed life is a life of radical loving and sacrificial giving. Paul tells us how we are to relate to both believers (vv. 9–16) and non-believers (vv. 17–21) in a world of evil. Love of others—especially of enemies—is a key test of the reality of a renewed mind and a transformed life (v. 21).