I tried to catch a chicken the other night. I’m not talking about one of those slow big brown chickens. I am talking about white lightening chicken. My friend had left for vacation, while on vacation one of his chickens got out of it’s coop. So at eleven-thirty at night I drove over to my friends house and chased this crazy bird all over the place. I wonder if God feels the same about Christians. We should be faithfully trusting God and resting in the coop, but most of us are running all over the yard acting crazy. Paul gets to the “Therefore” life. Because we are saved by faith and we are united, how should we live?
Romans 12 begins with “Therefore” and when we see therefore we have to ask “why is it there for?”. In light of the unifying work of Jesus in the Church in Rome, how should they live? Paul answers that question in Romans 12.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Romans 12:1
How were the readers of this letter to live? Sacrificially. God’s mercy gives fuel to our sacrificial lives. The same way that Jesus sacrificed his life over to death, we sacrifice our life to God. When I think of this sacrificial life I instantly deal with the tension between the life I live and the life I’m called to live. What does it look like to worship through sacrificial living?
4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. Romans 12:4
The first way Paul touches on is humility through community. As a living sacrifice God wants you to give your gifts and perspectives to the community of believers. Your church or small groups needs folks with different functions and perspectives to more wholly image God in our communities and in our families.
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need.Practice hospitality. Romans 12:9
Paul calls the giving of your gifts and perspectives to be sincere. Do not give so you can get. Rather give for the other’s sake. This is reflected in the upside down kingdom. We are to honor on another above yourselves. Like Jesus, my life is gained when it is given. And like Jesus we are to seek the benefit of others over ourselves.
Also, keep your spiritual zeal. This can not happen without spiritual nourishment. Like a car without gas will never get you where you need to go, the spiritual life without scripture, prayer, worship and meditation will leave you stranded.
Circumstances are not representative of the internal state of a follower of Jesus. I may have nothing, yet blessed and I may have everything with humility. My life is bound with Jesus. We can be patient in affliction or suffering. For we have hope through the Gospel of Jesus!
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another.Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[c] Do not be conceited. Romans 12:14-16
Say what! If I am punched in the face, mocked or spit on for my faith I am supposed to bless. I should hug those that kick me. I should associate with all people in spite of their social and economic status. I should treat all people equally? This is the upside down kingdom. Only Jesus can rule a kingdom made of people that pray for and love the ones that mock us.
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21
Jesus showed us that evil can not be defeated by anything other than sacrificial love. He calls us to live the same way.
Jews and Gentiles would have both understood the concept of sacrifice. A Jew would require a sacrifice for certain reasons. In Temple worship he would place his hand on the animal’s head as the priest slit the throat. During this messy affair, it would be clear and obvious that the animal was getting what the person deserved. What is the purpose of your living sacrifice? Who is it for?
You are a possession of the Church. We belong to one another. That seems foreign to me and I have a hard time grasping the meaning of the phrase. But clearly he wanted the Church to unite through sacrificial love. What does it mean to belong to another? Who do you belong to according to Paul?
We as christians can be fairly satisfied with ourselves too easily. Loving those in lower social and economic classes and those who persecute you is difficult. We need to be intentional. What is one way this week you can love in this way?
I challenge you this week to wake up early every day and pray for your church, your spiritual fervor and one person that needs to know Jesus.