Anytime a single verse of scripture is lifted before us, we do well to read what goes around it. Sometimes that single verse is representative of the meaning of the passage. Sometimes it is being used in ways that are an unfair representation. It's always good to look.
I was concerned when I heard Romans 13:1 quoted by Attorney General Jeff Sessions as a rationale for allowing the policy of separating children from parents at the southern US border to continue. It disturbed me to think people were hearing the Bible as a justification for this and that particular verse as a mandate to accept whatever those in authority put forth. That, along with concern over the separation policy, were the reasons I felt led to preach on Romans 12:9-13:10.
I realize some people appreciated the sermon as a whole, some appreciated a portion of it (but not all), and some would have preferred I didn't say any of what I said. Honestly, that assessment could be made after any sermon anyone gives. No sermon is perfect and checks all boxes for everyone. That's true for at least two reasons. The first is the obvious fact that all preachers, save the one who gave the Sermon on the Mount, and all hearer are flawed. The second is that sorting out a life of following Jesus, honoring God, and obeying the Holy Spirit is not simple or uniform.
Christians will always struggle to figure out how to live the faith in the time and place in which they are living and the best churches, as far as I can tell, are the ones that try to sort it out together. We do so with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, scripture, tradition, experience, and reason. That's what we're trying to do at Central with all sorts of issues. Sometimes it's harder than others and it's in those times that we need any extra measure of grace. I'm grateful that we're sorting it out together, even when it gets messy and uncomfortable. I'm always grateful for any measure of grace.