Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Jesus Should Make A Difference

Romans 12:1So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. (THE MESSAGE)
If Christianity was made illegal, would there be enough evidence to find you guilty? According to Phil Cooke, in his book Branding Faith, the latest research comparing the values, morals, habits of Christians is now indistinguishable from non-Christians! But Romans 12:1 calls those of us who follow Christ to live an entirely different kind of life to those who don't know Christ. We are to have different values- we are to prize God's Word, talking to God in prayer, fellowshiping with other Jesus-followers, loving our closest family members, we watch different TV, read different magazines, listen to different music, have different morals- we understand that life is not just about the here-and-now but that everything we do will be accounted for to a holy God who is going to judge us on The Day of Judgment. We have different habits - we treat people with undue respect - we start every day by reading God's Word, when we have a problem we commit it to God, the first thing we do with our weekly income is to present an offering to God, and we make sure that everyday Sunday is set aside for worship in church.
Romans 12:2 Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

This is one of the reasons why it has been so important for us as a church to focus on the remainder of Romans 12, especially the portion between verses 9-21. We have been focussing on this vitally important in our Bible Study Groups (you can download those studies here), our Sunday evening services, and other pulpit time. The major reason for this is that we want to follow Christ and bring the most glory to Him. These 27 imperatives in this passage can only cause followers of Christ to be noticeably different to those who do not live for Christ. But perhaps the most important aspect of this passage is that it requires followers of Christ to live in community as the church. When believers live in community with their brothers and sisters they can't help but stand out from the crowd. This is why meeting together each Sunday for expressing worship, expounding the Word, and experiencing fellowship is critically important for us.
Romans 12:3I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him. (THE MESSAGE)

In John 17:15-16, Jesus prayed that His followers would be "in" the world (living with, playing with, working with, talking to, helping out, non-Christians), but not "of" the world (acting like, thinking like, believing like, those who do not follow Christ and honour His Father). Christians are different. And we should be careful to be different for the right reason: to show the glory of Christ to the world. The good news is, as Romans 12:3 points out, that it is God who enables His people to live differently. When we fail God though, we have the knowledge that God will hear our prayer for forgiveness, heal us and restore us into loving fellowship with Himself. May God help us to be different. The world is waiting to know if Jesus really does make a difference.


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