Reading Romans 13
8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not covet,’ and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ 10 Love does no harm to a neighbour. Therefore love is the fulfilment of the law.
11 And do this, understanding the present time: the hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of ligh
Augustine could finally say after a long search and many dilemmas, questions, and doubts: "I believe." He describes this crucial event in much detail, as he must have recalled it many times in his contemplations. It might be surprising to learn how many tears Augustine shed, how he looked for solitude and was unsure of what was happening to him – although deep down he understood that he was experiencing something profound.
"I flung myself down somehow under a fig-tree and gave free rein to the tears that burst from my eyes like rivers, as an acceptable sacrifice to you. Many things I had to say to you, and the gist of them, though not the precise words, was: ‘O Lord, how long? How long? Will you be angry for ever? Do not remember our age-old sins.’ … I went on talking like this and weeping in the intense bitterness of my broken heart.
Suddenly I heard a voice from a house nearby—perhaps a voice of some boy or girl, I do not know—singing over and over again, ‘Pick it up and read, pick it up and read.’ …
I snatched [the book] up, opened it . “Get out of bed and get dressed! Don’t loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute. Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about!”
I had no wish to read further, nor was there need. No sooner had I reached the end of the verse than the light of certainty flooded my heart and all dark shades of doubt fled away."
Can we remember the moment when we consciously told God, "I believe"? When was it? In what situation? Did we also shed tears? Did we look for solitude? Or perhaps our confession of belief took place in a completely different setting?
However we made it, the confession “I believe” will give us the strength we need in our daily lives. It will give us the courage that we often lack in today’s world, so often hostile as it is to the spirit of the Gospel – courage to profess our faith in him who preached the word of grace.
After years of philosophical explorations, Augustine came to the conclusion that the Christian God is completely different than how he had imagined, and by reading the account of the Passion he understood that it is enough to simply not oppose God in our daily lives and open up to God’s initiative. This attitude he recommends to all of us: follow the path marked out for us by Jesus himself. Only through it can we arrive at his kingdom: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life" (John 14:6). No, from this day on there can indeed be no more doubt about it.
Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus.