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Saturday, 3 May 2014

Romans 12:1-8, Colossians 3:12, Romans 16:1-27 Together We’re Better

Several years ago, when I was working for a local lumber mill, the company had a contest where the employees were encouraged to come up with a slogan that portrayed the company’s mission. The slogan was to be used on all of the company’s promotional material. The winning entry was “Together We’re Better”, and it reflected the employees’ desire to work together to produce top-quality products.

Christianity can use the same motto, because together as Christians we can go a long way to fulfilling God’s call in our world. In Romans 12:1-8, Paul tells us about the internal life of the Christian community and its relationship to the surrounding world. In Colossians 3:12, he goes on to tell us how our Christian life is transformed into a life of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. We are to adopt these qualities, but we can’t do it on our own. As we surrender our lives to God’s control, he changes us so that our lives become a reflection of Christ, thus exemplifying each of these qualities. This gives us a spirit of submission in the fear of God.

Jesus is the reason we have been forgiven of our sins. He is the author of our salvation. Forgiveness is just the beginning. The Christian life is a journey in which we take thousands of steps to become more like Jesus.

God is never pleased when someone says, “I love Jesus, but I don’t need the church”. No Christian can walk alone in his or her faith journey. We need each other and should serve and support each other with love and gladness. Christians are part of one body-the body of Christ. Each Christian has a part to play in that body, and if one Christian doesn’t perform his or her function to the best of their ability, the entire body loses its effectiveness. Our unity is built on the Church’s body of truth-the Scriptures. They tell us that we are not to live independently of one another, but dependently, as members of a body. We have a hunger to belong-a hunger that can only be satisfied by our new life in Christ. We need each other. Just as eyes can’t provide hearing and ears can’t provide sight, we provide for the rest of the body the gifts which others lack.  

Unfortunately, even the best of families have conflict, and the Christian body is no exception. Jacob and Esau did not get along. King Saul tried to kill David. Paul wanted nothing to do with his former traveling companion Mark. The New Testament is full of advice on resolving difficulties, but it can be summed up in this three-step process. First, be factual. Relationships grounded in the truth are helpful to all, but not all truth is ours to tell. Truth told in confidence must be kept in confidence. Also, truth must be told at the right time and in the right way. Second, be flexible. It will be a happier day when we stop demanding perfection from others, especially when we ourselves are far from perfect. Finally, be forgiving. Bear with one another and forgive whatever grievances you have with one another. Forgive as the Lord forgives us.

We are what we are by the grace of God. As such, we are to be transparent vessels of God’s anointing. We are to dress in his robes of righteousness and his countenance of glory. We are called to a different standard of living. We are never going to be able to wear the uniform of the world without realizing that underneath it we also wear our relationship with Jesus Christ. It means that there will be times when we will not fit in with other crowds…when we will look different…unusual…odd.

That’s OK, because whether they know it or not, the world is echoing what the Apostle Peter says. “You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people”. We are actually fulfilling what Paul encouraged us to do: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed”. We are only accidentally in this world. We are really part of the Body of Christ. We are part of the people who are transformed by the renewing of our minds. The ways of the world, the way the world judges and evaluates things are not the way things really are. And that is precisely Paul’s point.

We are called to look at the world with different eyes-the eyes of Christ, because as Christians we are called to be the eyes, ears, hands and feet of Christ in our world. We are to do what we can to save others’ lives-physically and spiritually. We are called to be witnesses through our testimony-both verbal and non-verbal. Both types of testimony must be clear, visible and consistent. Paul calls us to live our lives not by conforming to the the standards of this age, but by allowing ourselves to be changed and live by Christ’s standards. We must rid ourselves of and forget about those things which have been an obstruction in our lives. We are to sacrifice our lives to God at all times and in all places. We have to go through spiritually what Jesus went through physically. We must die and be buried in order to experience a resurrection into a new, free, full life.

In Colossians 3:12, we are called to be meek, but we must always remember that meekness does not mean weakness. For example, consider the story of Moses. In Numbers 12:3, the Bible says that “Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth”. He was meek, but he was not weak. He killed the Egyptian who beat his Hebrew brother unjustly. He fled to the desert and built a fortune over forty years. He faced Pharaoh and demanded “Let my people go!” He led the Israelites to the Promised Land. When God was so angry with Israel that he was going to kill all of the Israelites, Moses stood in intercession and said, “If you kill them, Lord, kill me also!” God changed his mind because of Moses. That’s meekness, but it’s anything but weakness.  

We are going to give our lives for something, whether it is a career, a sport, a hobby, fame or wealth. None of these will have lasting significance. Service to others is the pathway to real significance. It is through this that we discover the meaning of our lives. As we serve together in God’s family, our lives take on eternal importance. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 12:14, “I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less…because of what you are a part of”. God wants to use us to make a difference in his world. He wants to work through us. What matters is not the duration of our lives, but the donation of them. Not how long we lived, but how we lived.

At every critical turn in our lives, we must ask ourselves, “Does the fact that I am a follower of Jesus Christ have anything to say to me here?” If we do that, some good things are going to happen. First, we will occasionally find ourselves doing some “lowly” work. For example, on the night before he died, Jesus washed his disciples’ feet-and that was lowly, dirty work. Love sometimes stoops down in order to do the simplest things for the neediest people. If we follow Jesus, we will never again be able to look at someone else’s needs and say, “I don’t care. It’s not my problem. No sweat off of my back.” To be a follower of Jesus means looking out for other people, including our brothers and sisters in Christ. It also means looking for Jesus in the presence in other people, including our Christian brothers and sisters.

Second, Jesus will ask us to make some hard choices. These choices will shape and form the lives of boys, girls and adults, including all of us. They will touch hearts and change the lives of those who are here in church and those who have not even thought about becoming part of a community of faith. The present age is knocking at our doors. It is seeking comfort and counseling in these troubled times. It asks, “Can I find love in a world of hate? What can I do with this fear? What is the reason for the hope that lies within us?” God trusts us to answer these questions by helping each other and working together with our brothers and sisters in Christ to do his work in our hurting world. The body of Christ can accomplish great things when we work together to fulfill the mission and vision God has put before us.

As we read the Scriptures they reason with us. They tell us not to react instinctively to things, but to think them through. They give us a new framework for our understanding, a new context in which to reason. The more we draw our understanding from the Scriptures and learn to think God’s thoughts after Him, the more secure and the more effective our lives become.

 
Bibliography

1.      Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, New American Standard Version

2.      Pastor Steve Molin, “Rearranged…or Changed?” Retrieved from www.sermonwriter.com

3.      Abingdon Commentary. Retrieved from www.esermons.com

4.      Heartlight Daily Verse, March 16, 2008. Retrieved from www.crosswalkmail.com

5.      Adrian Rogers, “Put on the Righteousness of Christ”. Retrieved from www.lwf.org

6.      Heartlight Daily Verse, Aug. 20, 2007. Retrieved from www.crosswalkmail.com

7.      Adrian Rogers, “One Body in Christ”. Retrieved from www.lwf.org

8.      Rick Warren, “What Excuse Have you Been Using?” Retrieved from www.purposedriven.com

9.      William Ritter, “On Dancing a Confirmation Dance” Retrieved from www.esermons.com

10.  Dr. J. Howard Olds, “Doing Our Best” Retrieved from www.esermons.com

11.  Rev. Billy D. Strayhorn, “Living in ‘Oddville’ with ‘Peculiar’ People”. Retrieved from www.esermons.com

12.  Jeff Wedge, “Body Parts and Pride”. Retrieved from www.esermons.com

13.  Rev. Billy D. Strayhorn, “Dare to DV8” Retrieved from www.esermons.com

14.  Dr. J. Howard Olds, “Conflict Resolution”.  Retrieved from www.esermons.com

15.  Exegesis for Romans 12:1-8. Retrieved from www.sermonwriter.com

16.  Selwyn Hughes, “Warm Goodwill to Others”. Retrieved from www.crosswalkmail.com

17.  Selwyn Hughes, “The Future-Safe with Him” ”. Retrieved from www.crosswalkmail.com

18.  Frederick R. Harm, “Ah, the Sweet mystery of Life”. Retrieved from www.esermons.com

19.  Steve Davey, “Living Dependently”. Retrieved from www.crosswalkmail.com

20.  Matthew Henry Concise Commentary. Part of Wordsearch Bible software package

21.  ESV Study Bible. Part of Wordsearch Bible Software package.

22.  Selwyn Hughes, “Think, Man, Think”. Retrieved from www.crosswalkmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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