How do you develop the kind of relationships where the body operates in the kind of way that you become a living holy sacrifice radically enjoying the good, pleasing and perfect will of God?
Do you really want to know how to live this kind of a life?
We have presented the possibility and call to live a Romans 12:1-2 kind of life in the context of the body of Christ (Romans 12:3-8.) Now Paul tells us how to do this.
In this series we have studied:
Remember worship is understanding who God is and giving Him what he wants!
1. The Real You. . .
“9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.”
Another translation puts it this way: “Let love be without hypocrisy.” The real you is not who you project that you are but who you truly are. The real meat of this verse and the foundation of relational worship is simply this: Let your love be genuine and real! No hypocrisy or hiding behind masks. The word for sincerity and hypocrisy comes from an ancient Greek word that means mask. It is a reference to the Greek plays when men would have play different roles but holding a mask on a stick up to their face.
They would project something outwardly that wasn’t accurate inwardly. They weren’t sincere, they weren’t authentic or real. The writer says in plain words: Love must be sincere! If you really want to answer the question what does God want from me, you must move beyond superficiality.
Two words: Authenticity and Purity
There should be no faking of our spiritual status. There should be no false humility like we talked about last week. Don’t try to undersell your gifts and strengths to keep from participating in the body of Christ. The real you is important where you are honest and authentic and not covering over your blemishes and weaknesses.
Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:10, “But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace.”
How do we do that? “Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.”
We are to abhor evil. Think of the most disgusting thing you can think of eating and whatever you feel about it (sick, gross, nauseating) that is what you are supposed to feel about evil things.
You and I must have a commitment to being pure in our spiritual lives. Have you ever been in a situation where you know what is right but you have gotten into hidden sin in your life? When you get around the body of Christ what happens? You have to pretend to be something you are not. There is no more miserable way to live then that. You know you should forgive someone but you have harbored bitterness in your heart over something and now you have to pretend that you are okay when you are around them. You have to pretend that you love them.
We will never have the kind of relationships we need to have in Christ and local church body when we are not honest authentic and pursing purity.
Did you notice the last statement of verse nine? We are to cling to what is good and beautiful winsome and wholesome. I think we all give mental assent to this but deep down we are overwhelmed by it.
Paul Tournier wrote a book titled The Strong and the Weak, and in it he makes an astounding observation. He concludes that everyone is highly insecure. Not just a few people but everyone! 100% of mankind is desperately insecure. Some people demonstrate their desperate insecurity with strong reaction so they look powerful and tell you how many people report to them and they use their money and the letter behind their name. They power up and get real strong and by doing this they keep you at a distance so you won’t see the frightened little girl or boy they really are!
There are others that have weak reactions and they are shy and their eyes go down when they talk to you. They never get involved or want to get too close because if they do you will see the frightened person they are in their desperate insecurity and inferiority.
So here we are in group dynamics or the dynamics of the body of Christ with the strong powerful dominating people and the shy, reticent people and yet we all have the same problem to overcome.
God is not impressed with people’s gifts, money, status, position, how they look or their bodies or how smart they are because He made them that way. Do you realize how much time and money we spend on trying to project and be something that we think everyone else will be impressed with? You know what happens when you do that? People fall in love with the image and you go to bed at night and realize nobody really loves you because their in love with your image!
Get real so you can meet real needs! Relational worship and moving beyond superficiality demands that you bring the real you to the table. Relational worship connects us in a way where your gifts begin to touch other people.
2. Meeting Real Needs. . .
The real you can now meet real needs.
“10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.”
Two words: Devotion and Humility
We are to be devoted to one another. We are to lay aside the superficiality. Jesus modeled this devotion for us. He is fully God yet He looked at us and our sin and said “I am so devoted to you and your righteousness before the Father that I am going to die for you so that you might have eternal life.”
The Bible says that the Son of man came to serve not to be served. Remember the passage from Philippians that we studied this summer:
“You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
“Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross” Philippians 2:6-8
Do you know what verses three and four of that same chapter say?
“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” Philippians 2:3-4
God longs for us to use our gifts and strengths to make a difference in His body. You bring the real you and begin to meet real needs. When you become real other people will become real as well. Grace will flow, the Spirit of God will flow, and authenticity will happen.
The Real You: “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.”
Meeting Real Needs: “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.”
Do you know how you do this? You start living your life as a living sacrifice and you will be surprised the doors that God will open for you. You don’t need a position or a title. Do you know that when you come to church especially this church that it is like being on a mission field? There are people right around you today who need someone to care enough to get beyond ‘Hi How are you.’
3. For the Right Reason. . .
“11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
Don’t lag behind in diligence or zeal! Keep up your spiritual fervor. It is very important that you notice in this scripture that it says you do this “serving the Lord.”
Everything we do is being done for the Lord. Hypocrisy often occurs more in are motives than in our actions.
I wish I had the capability to drive this point home today like never before. When you do something in the church or outside of the church you should be doing it for the right reasons.
If you are a greeter, why are you doing that?
If you are a nursery worker why are you doing that?
If you sing or play an instrument why do you do that?
If you give faithfully in your tithes and offerings why do you do that?
When you serve you don’t do it for someone who asks you to do it. You do it for God. To greet someone at the door of the church or in the parking lot is incredibly significant. You are the first impression not just of the church but of Jesus! When you serve by being part of a hospitality team you are serving folks in the name of Jesus.
I had a conversation with someone a few years ago who tried to express the fact that serving in the church was a form of pastor appreciation. I want you to hear this and hear it well, NOTHING could be further from the truth. You may like a pastor of a staff member or the leader of some ministry team but if you are serving for them you are working for the wrong person and everything you do will be tainted by your misguided thinking.
You man not even like the person who is leading the ministry but if you can see the opportunity for what it is ( an opportunity to serve Jesus) you will focus on what God is asking you to do and be.
This scripture is saying that you need to do whatever it is that God is calling you to do. Get in the game and get involved and don’t ride the bench.
If you want to care for people than start caring for them in the foyers and parking lots. When you come to church look for people who need someone to talk to and then just be quiet and listen. There is a tremendous need for us to just be like Christ even when we come to church. Do it with fervor and zeal!
There are two characteristics of authentically serving Christ
Two words: Excellence and Enthusiasm
When you are really serving Christ you won’t come to church unprepared to do what it is you are going to do.
If you are a teacher you will be prepared for the lesson.
If you are a greeter or usher or parking lot attendant you will do it with a Christ like attitude because you are serving Him.
When you are serving God for the right reasons you won’t lag behind whether someone pats you on the back or not. You will be diligent because of who you are doing it for. Don’t do what you do half-baked because it’s the church.
Why do major companies in the world's system sometimes get excellence better than people in the church that are supposed to be doing what they do for The God of heaven?
IBM, Apple, Microsoft and other companies strive for excellence. This reminds me of churches I have been around where it has become the culture to do what you do for church in a sloppy manner. I can take you to churches this morning where you will be almost guaranteed to hear someone say before singing a “special song” that they didn’t have time to practice much so listen to the words and not the music!
Give God your best inside the church and outside the church. It’s like the old missionary barrels where we would give clothes to send to the missionaries and people would give old worn out junk that the wouldn’t wear anymore.
Give God your best.
We just talked about his in the sermon on tithing I did a few weeks ago. If you go to Malachi and read the first chapter God was saying to the people of Israel quit giving me your sick, blind and frail lambs for sacrifice. I want the best! God always wants excellent worship that is enthusiastic for Him.
Let me share story with you about some church people… It’s about 4 people in the church whose names were Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody… The church had some financial responsibilities and Everybody was asked to help… Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it… Anybody could have done it… But you know who did it? Nobody… It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done… Then the church grounds needed some work, and Somebody was asked to help… But Somebody got mad, because Anybody could have done it, and after all, it was really Everybody’s job… In the end the work was given to Nobody, and Nobody did a fine job… On & on it went… Whenever work was to be done, Nobody could always be counted on… Nobody visited the sick, Nobody gave his time, Nobody shared his faith… In short, Nobody was a very faithful member… Finally the day came when Somebody left the church and took Anybody & Everybody with him… Guess who was left. Nobody! Isn’t that a sad story?
4. In the Right Way.
Don’t try to do what you do in the power of your strength and flesh. If you do you will burn out and get discouraged. God wants us to bring the real us to meet real needs for the right reasons. The right way always has an upward and an outward focus.
Two words: Upward focus and Outward focus
“12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”
Hope: We hope in Jesus not because everything is working out but because we have a hope and certainty in Him. Hope doesn’t mean wish. We use it when we are wishing for thinks like a Bengal’s win or I hope the Bengal’s win another game. The bible does not use it that way. Hope in the Bible is the anchor and foundation of our faith. Out hope is in the fact that Jesus is coming back. That is not a wish it is a fact. Heaven is real and our eternity is fixed. We find hope to rejoice in even in the midst of turmoil on this earth. God is faithful and Sovereign. You rejoice in the fact that now is not all there is.
You don’t rejoice that your circumstances are turning out okay. You don’t rejoice that all your family is nice and that all your finances are working out. That may make you happy but joy is found in the hope that lies within us.
The best days of ministry always happen when you and I or the church are in the midst of tribulation and hard days. That is the way it works. When things go south you and I start paying attention to God and others like never before.
Let’s be honest, the average believer in America is floating with the flow of our culture and trying to do a little good here and there and asking Jesus for a little help to make their life work out as they float down the stream.
The calling of God is to be difference makers. We are called to be salt and light. It starts in your heart and then it goes public and then it is working with the body and then you develop authentic relationships.
When you live like this some of your friends may say aren’t you taking the Christianity stuff a little far and can lovingly say maybe you aren’t taking it far enough. Is Jesus real or not? Is heaven real or not? Is now all there is or is eternity what we are working toward? True or false?
Patience: The load and stress will always be there so you and I need to in patience keep on moving. It is going to be tough so hang in there and let God work. God will use the difficulties to produce endurance in you. (James 1)
Faithful in Prayer: You know what. You can’t do this so you ask God to help you.
God’s agenda is to change your character not your circumstances.
Outward focus: We are to literally help others within the church when we can. This is based on a mutual trust and an understanding that there will always be those who take advantage of others.
“Share with God’s people, practice (pursue) hospitality. To live this out it needs to be about more than just your little group or church. Let God’s love flow through you as you walk through this church building or as you think about your small group.
A man called a pastor’s office at a church one day to inquire into membership in the church. He stated that he would not be able to get involved or anything, but he felt it was important to have some religious affiliation. The pastor advised this man that the church he pastored might not be the best fit for him, but he knew of a place where he would fit in quite nicely. The man asked about a phone number, but the pastor only gave him an address. On Sunday morning, the gentlemen followed the directions and pulled up into the yard of a dilapidated building. The roof was falling in, the doors were locked, and vines were growing into the windows. This gentlemen called the pastor and told him that he had given him the wrong directions. "Oh no," the pastor replied. "Not at all. That is the place. That church has a membership roll filled with people who did not want to get involved or committed. That is what will always happen to a church whose members do not care about its success."
This Is My Church It is composed of people just like me. It will be friendly if I am. It will do a great work if I work. It will make generous gifts to many causes if I am generous. It will bring others into its fellowship if I bring them. Its seats will be filled if I fill them. It will be a church of loyalty and love, of faith and service. If I who make it what it is, am filled with these, Therefore, with God’s help, I dedicate myself to the task of being All these things I want my Church to be. Anonymous