8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet," and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 10Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.Amy writes
11Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 12 The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
At first it might seem odd to consider this passage in the light of Advent. The general call to "live honorably" (and it’s more explicit explanations) seem out of place as we anticipate Christ’s arrival. It reads almost as a rebuke, a form of communication usually absent from the jolly red and white of this commercial holiday.
But when I look to the passages which precede it, I begin to discover a message worthy of this season of expectation. This passage falls on the heels of a reiteration of the Golden Rule. Paul writes, "Love your neighbor as yourself." Romans 13:9-10: "Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law." This often overlooked "love" passage follows the more famous one which speaks of respecting one's government.
I begin to understand today's passage only when I see it in reference to the passages it follows. Paul tells us we fulfill the law through love. We respect the government’s authority, but ultimately recognize loving our neighbor fulfills the law. To love our neighbor is to make all other law unnecessary. To love our neighbor is to follow God even when our world tells us otherwise. This is God's dream, this is the message for which Paul calls us awake: Love your neighbor. This is the message and fulfillment we anticipate and commemorate each Advent as we await the one who has taught us to love (as well as lovingly rebuke). This is the message which will turn the world.
Love, part of the hope that we have in Christ. Through Christ, we are taught what true love is. We are taught how to love our neighbours, how to react to the government (by being subject to it), and generally just how we are to live. We are remember that we live differently now. We no longer need to walk in darkness. We are children of the light! Let us walk properly then! Let us live like Christ wants us too ... people of light, people of daytime, people who have hope in our salvation.