Sunday, March 23, 2014

We Need Each Other

one body

Reading: Romans 12:1-21

 Last week, we discussed the Christian’s life in relation to God – A life of total consecration: a life that demands your all as the only reasonable service to God. God wants a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable. He does not want a dead sacrifice, nor does He require a defiled offering.

Do not be conformed

The world conforms; puts you into its mould, but life dedicated to God is transformed, renewed, made good and acceptable. Conformation is outward and does not in any way affect the inner-self. There are many in the Church who are only trying to conform – they dress like Christians, talk like Christians, behave like Christians, learn their vocabularies, but their inside is the old antithesis of the Christian life. Transformation reaches deeper. The work is done inside and made manifest in the outside. The radiance is inside and reaches to the outside

Paul is appealing to the Christians – Do not be conformed to the age. Do not do like they do. Don’t copy them. There is nothing so hateful and abominable in the eyes of God as for the Christian to conform himself according to the present age, an outward age which does not truly represent the new nature in purity and permanence. This age is evil and is passing away. If you conform yourself to this age, you will pass away with it.”

Paul is saying in verses 1-2 of Romans 12 that:

a) The basis of Holy living is Revelation

b) The method of Holy living is Consecration

c) The result or outcome of Holy living is Transformation

How do we live towards our fellow men? 

Verses 1-2 describe our Christian life towards God. However, the Christian life is not only a God-ward life; it should influence those around us too. How do we live towards our fellow men? Paul begins to answer to this question in verse 3 and will continue till the end of Chapter 15. We shall today only discuss Chapter twelve.

There are three things he based his discussions on:

Verse 5: We are members one of another

Verse 10: We should be devoted to one another in brotherly love

Verse 10: Honour one another.

If we can close our eyes for a moment and reflect on the demands of these three statements we will be able to follow the rest of Chapter twelve.

We need each other

To understand the first point, we must read First Corinthians 12:14-26. The illustration using the human body shows the Christian Church which is indeed the Body of Christ. Not the same shape, not the same functions, yet all are working to keep the body intact and effective. Paul is saying in effect that:

1. No individual Christian can function effectively by himself.

2. No member of Christ’s body should feel he is more important than another member of Christ’s body. The emphasis here is humility. That is why he now writes: “For by the grace given to me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”

3. All Christians should work hard at creating unity in the body of Christ. This is why, in writing to the Church in Corinth, Paul says: “I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another, so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thoughts.” (First Corinthians 1:10)

Paul is saying – WE NEED EACH OTHER! Not one of us is more important than any other Christian, even though one of us may have a more obvious or more significant position in the body. We are to be clothed with humility. We should therefore emphasize Christian maturity for all members of the Body of Christ.

The only possible way for the body function to be effective, meaningful, and dynamic is for the body of believers to know each other well and be able on the basis of knowledge to minister to each other. Unless you really understand me, you will nearly always misinterpret me and misjudge me.

We should be devoted to one another in brotherly love 

The Church is a family. The Dad, Mom, Children- brother, sister relationship should be seen in the functioning of the Body of Christ. The body concept tells us that we are members one of another. The family concept gives us an even greater appreciation of what a functioning Church should be. There should be the family warmth, tenderness, concern, and loyalty. How are you, related to those born from the same womb with you? That is what brotherly love is talking about – show to Christian brothers and sisters the same affection that you have for your blood relations. Talking to the Philippians, Paul said: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition, or vain conceit, but in humility, consider others better than yourself. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4) This to my mind is where we have the hard nut to crack. How do you consider others better than yourself?

To be able to develop a true family affection in the Church, I would want every one of us to consider these four questions:

Do I fear rejection? – Some people have been so deeply hurt by others that they are afraid to express their feelings. They are not willing to take a chance of being burnt again. Are you like that?

Have I had a poor family background? Some people grew up in homes where physical affection and love towards other family members are seldom or perhaps never expressed. Some Christians also have difficulty expressing emotions to God because of negative experiences in the home. If a child grew up under a wicked father – “Our Father in heaven” also must be wicked.

Am I basically angry and resentful? Some people are controlled by deep feeling of anger and resentment toward other people. They find it difficult to express positive emotions. 

Do I spend most of my time thinking about myself? Some Christians are very selfish and self-centred. They think only of themselves. This is even shown in the way they pray. Such prayers think only of good that should come to self.

Honour one another

How can we overcome these emotions and begin to express ourselves in the family of God? Paul’s answer is: Honour one another above yourselves (Verse 10) To be able to do this we should follow the example of Jesus as in John 13:12-15: “So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you?  You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I AM.  If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.”

Let this mind also be in you which was in Christ Jesus- Philippians 2:5-11. You can never lose by sincerely honoring others. God will not forget, and neither will those you honoured. Let us pray the prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
Where there is sadness, joy
O Divine Master, grant that I may not   so much seek
To be consoled as to console
To be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

God bless you all.

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