Romans 12 Part 2 (Ian and Zak)
Romans 12:3-5: Go to Cherch and What Church Really Looks Like
Dec. 3, 2013
Teachers: Zak and Ian
THE LAST HAM!!!!
With finals, it might become a competition to see who is busier. Maybe you get pissed and argue, “No! My schedule is so packed!” And it is complete insanity because everyone is running around. The focus on final’s week is all on ourselves and we freak out about it. It is clear if we focus on ourselves, we are viewing ourselves as more important than others. It always results in insanity, though. And that’s what Paul says in Romans 12:3.
Romans 12:3 — For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.
We can think with either of the following mindsets:
1) With sound judgment
2) With irrational, insane mindset
The insane way is focused on the idea that we are better than everyone else, higher than everyone else and don’t need others. However, see Romans 12:4-5.
Romans 12:4-5 — For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
Instead of focusing on yourself, focus on others as well with sound judgment. That makes for strong Body Life.
1 Corinthians 12:12-13 — For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
Paul uses the analogy on the “body of Christ”. How does one become a member of the body of Christ? You are a member through Christ. We are all sinful, and sin is a rift between us and God, but thankfully, Jesus died on the cross for our sins so we can accept that death on the cross. When we do that and say, “I want your death on the cross to count for my sins.” We are all connected through that one spirit, made members of one another.
While most people here involved in the body of Christ know all this because we discuss it a lot with each other. We view church differently here from other places. However, if we know this so well, why do we struggle with it? Why do we find ourselves not always engaging with one another? Maybe some of us just come here, sit down, hang out for an hour or so and that is it. Why do we not invest in one another more outside of meetings? Maybe we have started to do that, but it is still superficial. You argue, “I’ll hang out with people outside of home church, but just once a week and only with this person.”
The big problem with us is that we aren’t always practicing body life. We can argue that we’ll do better, get more involved. But in reality, it’s not like that at all. The body of Christ simply is. When you get saved, you are automatically put into the body of Christ, and you do not need to achieve it nor strive for it. It is not an imperative. We automatically are the body of Christ.
We also always find ourselves tempted to slide into selfish mentality, viewing ourselves higher than others. It is a default nature where we separate ourselves from other people. We might do that a lot during final’s week: A lot of us might be trying to graduate or find significance in our grades this week. However, that attitude pulls us away from the body of Christ. Our focus is not on others, but on self.
The body of Christ is not about ourselves. Christianity is not about saving your own skin or sin — who cares if you are sin free for a couple weeks? What is more important is the advancement of the body of Christ. The whole body is more important than the individual parts. While the pieces of the whole are important, the group as a whole matters most.
Christianity is not meant to be lived out individually. Ever since Pentecost, Christianity was never lived out on an individual level. Yeah, we are individuals and God knows us each personally by name and knows the numbers of hairs on our head, and he relates to us on personal level. We are, in God’s eyes, individuals. While he does not condemn us from being individuals, there is a problem when we have individualistic mannerisms–when we slip into the mindset that we can simply “go to church” or “bible study,” we end up looking like an institutional church.
So what is the institutional church? There is God and Christ, below it you have the clergy (pastor’s, deacons, priests–the important people) and below that you have laypeople (the normal “attendees”). With the institutional model, it looks like the average person cannot have direct access to God. We have to go through the clergy. While it’s a great place if you want to hide (as you aren’t involved with other people much or building up the body of Christ), it’s selfish. You are focused on making yourself feel good. Maybe the songs are uplifting and the people are all smiley. But do you know anyone there, or are you a stranger?
What prevents us from slipping into the institutional church model? The answer is not viewing yourself as a priority like Romans 12:3 says.
Now, we have spiritual gifts. The Bible tells us about them a little in 1 Corinthians 12. Now, say I had 12 to 14 spiritual gifts, and this poor dude over there only had one or two. Would that make me better than him? Would that mean that I really don’t need him because I’m a spiritually gifted powerhouse? May it never be! The truth is, I probably really need that dude who only has one or two gifts. The one or two gifts he has are probably the gifts I don’t have and need his help with.
For example, I might be a strong teacher, but I am not too good at making people feel loved and welcomed. That dude over there might be great with that: He makes jokes with people, makes them feel warm and welcome into the body of Christ. I simply cannot do everything. That’s why we need one another’s help because we cannot solve the world. If we can’t even handle final’s week, why should we think that we can carry ministry on our shoulders? Autonomy does not work. When we view ourselves as better, we are likely to feel miserable as a result. When we truly see the body of Christ for what it is, it is fulfilling. It is more than just a random group of friends hanging out: It is supernatural as we all share Christ in common.
Maybe you are on a million sports teams, clubs, jobs. But none of those groups are nearly as fulfilling or exciting as the body of Christ, which gives significance and excitement.
A lot of us here know that body life is important, but do we really know that body life is important? Do we know it enough that we are not going to drift away from it or forget? Because this is what the body looks like: It is organic and connected to Christ. As Christians, we make up the body of Christ. Body life is a very churchy term, but it is an analogy that means we make up Christ’s body.
What does that look like? We personally make it up together. If you are new, this could be a radical fact for you because church is not just a place you go; it is the people! A lot of us have heard this, but we need to think, “Am I going to drift from this?” because so often, things might be going smooth, but forget it.
Body life in the early church was extremely important. When things were going well, the church would multiply from one church, to two, to four and to more! The early church after Christ’s death was on fire. They started with about 100 people, but grew to 1 million people in 100 years. They had no buildings and no building called the church, but they were the church. They were meeting just as we are today.
Even today, there are a lot of churches out there. However, some might be boring now. They obviously did not start that way. Do you think someone would start a church and think, “Hey. Let’s start this church. We need to make it really boring!” No! That would be ridiculous and no one would have come. So why are so many churches today “boring”? Possibly, they started to drift from the message of Christ and meeting one another in body life.
So back to the passage: We are individually members of one another.
The original church went from 100 to 1 million, as we said before. It stopped there, though. Why? It went from being organic and growing to an institutional church. From a sane church to an insane church.
Here are some signs that your view of the body of Christ (church) is distorted:
- “Did you go to church today?”
Just from that statement, “Did you go to church today,” you can see what this person thinks about church. He or she just views the church as a place you go to once and a while, instead of viewing it as organic; the people.
Matthew 18:20 — For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.
The church is people getting together in fellowship; hanging out and relating. So, no. I did NOT “go” to church. I am a part of the church.
- “I’m changing churches because my needs are not being met at my old church!”
In this view, the person wants to “church hop” his or her way out of the church, which again, is selfish because he or she feels his or her needs are not being met. I would argue with the person, “Good luck at your new place!” because if the church is just about meeting your needs, then you do not understand anything about the church. You have the wrong mindset. Even if you change your “church,” you will not feel “more fulfilled” at your new place. You are just filling yourself up doing that or waiting for a show.
Acts 2:42 — They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Real church is much different than the church shoppers’ view. It is continually devoting to one another, helping meet other people’s needs. It is not about filling your own needs; it is about going in to help out.
- “I’ll go to church when I have more time.”
A lot of Americans think about church under this perspective: We have other things going on like projects, football, shopping, school. It is so common, and people do not want to view the body of Christ as a priority. But the Bible tells us likewise.
1 Peter 1:22 — Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart,
Romans 12:10 — Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;
Acts 2:46 — Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart,
These verses tell us that the members of the church “fervently” love one another and are “devoted” to one another, day by day. It is not just once a month, once a week or a time limit. It is something you make time for because it is an organic body, not just for the self.
- “As long as God and I are tight, I’m good.”
When someone argues that they do not need the body of Christ, they are skewed in their thoughts. These are the people who say, “Well, I pray. I read the Bible. I talk to God, and we’re pretty cool, right?” Wrong.
1 Corinthians 12:21 — And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”
We need one another in the body of Christ because it is an interdependent group, and together, we make up the body of Christ. It is more than just you and God. It’s good and cool that you and God have a tight relationship, but I think you miss the point of what is going on if that’s all you want.
Galatians 5:6 — For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.
I would argue to the person who thinks it is ok if all Christianity is for him is “being tight with God,” that him and God probably are not tight if he isn’t expressing is faith through loving other people, too.
- “I don’t want to be involved in the church. There are so many annoying people there!”
People under this perspective are annoyed with other people in the body of Christ. While I agree, we might have some annoying people in the body of Christ or people who we don’t get along with. Not everyone fit into the “super cool” group growing up. Maybe you want to go to a church with only cool people. But check out 1 Corinthians 12.
1 Corintiahns 12:25 — so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.
This verse says there is no division in the body of Christ. Everywhere else in the world is so cliquy, but in the body of Christ, we are united despite all differences. We have Christ in common. At school, friends might be cliquy. Even at work, people get cliquy with one another. But with the body of Christ, things grew so fast because it is liberating. You did not have to fit some mold. You belong because of Christ. It is not superficial. While the institutional church might be superficial and cliquy, true body life is not that way. It is not phony and you do not have to put on your “church face”.
Romans 12:9 — Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.
We have heard this before. But let’s think: Are we striving for this? Do we want to continually strive for this? While the five thoughts above are silly, people have thought those things before. They are not nonsense I came up with on the spot. The question is this: Are we going to become like that traditional boring view of church and drift to nothingness? Or will we fight it and strive for body life?
Just thinking about one year ago, our group was much smaller. Now, it has grown. It is not because we’re great or do great things, but it is because of the love we have for one another and sharing Christ with other people, despite any differences. So will we continue that direction or will we become boring? We might argue, “No! We can stay this way!” but it is a fight. Some of us are getting older, and it might be tempting to ease into boring adult life. Remember the following verse:
Hebrews 10:24 — and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,
Our fellowship is important. It is not just about you and God, but us as a group. This is also how we reach other people. I know before I had a relationship with Christ, I was lonely and felt like something was missing. Maybe you have felt that, too. Life does not have to be that way. God came down as Jesus and died for us on the cross, where he paid the price for sin and forgave us of everything. Once we accept that, we are a part of this big, awesome body.
And once we have this, maybe we want all of our friends to experience this joy, too. As Christians, we need to continue loving one another. It is a priority. Refer to 1 Peter 1:22: Fervently love one another from the heart! Are we fighting for this or are we just going to be lame, clock in our time? We must fight for unity.
Ephesians 4:2-3 — with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.