Summary: Authentic relationships in truly Christian community have far greater appeal than church programs. All will know we are Christians by our love.




I believe we are just coming to the close of the Glasgow Fair fortnight – a time in the year which many people look forward to in order to experience a time of rest.

I always value taking a break at this time of year in order to rest, read and reflect It enables me to gain fresh perspective and begin to prepare for the demanding months ahead. I also get to attend church and hear others preach.

Liz and I attended a church service with friends a couple of weeks ago, and the overall impact of the service was one by which I saw afresh how immense is the impact of the Gospel on the standards of ethics we as Christians hold to be right, and to a great degree seek to live out in our relationships.

Indeed, when the Christian faith is lived out with sincerity in the world and community by Christians, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the standards are extremely high.


Alastair has been known to lose his wallet and bus pass from time to time.

[Lost on a bus with £10. Later recovered and claimed at the bus depot (minus the £10)]

Happened at CLAN Gathering last week (bus pass, bank card and keys to apartment he was staying it) – all picked up at Lost Property.


Christian community, when it is working at its best, is like a picture of heaven. It is how we were meant to relate to one another.

It is more than this - It is a reflection of the Trinity and the relationships within the Godhead.


• How much has your life been reshaped by the Gospel of Christ and by the Word of God?

• What effect is this having on those around you?

READING: Romans 12:1-21

POINT: As Christians our lives are going through a process of transformation and we are urged in God’s Word to give our attention to it.


There is something spiritual and intensely powerful about this inner metamorphosis that takes place within our lives as Christians.

It grows towards and conforms to what we see in God in Trinity. For in God in Trinity there is relationship between Father, Son and Holy Spirit which is characterized by such things as: Love, light, truth, harmony and mission.


We are called to be holy. We are called to be godly. And that holiness and godliness is exhibited in our relationships.

• Authentic relationships matter far more than even having good church programs.

• Or put another way – the only thing of greater importance than WHAT we do as Christians is the WAY we do things.

We are in the process of being transformed.


A number of years ago we formulated our Statement of Purpose based on the five principle, patterns and practices of the New Testament Church.

To MAGNIFY God, Unite in MEMBERSHIP, Grow in MATURITY, serve in MINISTRY and witness in MISSION.

In other words, be a church that is authentic in all of our relationships. (We adopted ideas, including the five M’s from Rick Warren’s observations on NT practice)

MAGNIFY – all about God honouring WORSHIP

MEMBERSHIP – all about our FELLOWSHIP together

MATURITY – about whole of life DISCIPLESHIP

MINISTRY – draws attention to our gifting for SERVICE

MISSION – highlights this priority of our call to WITNESS

It is interesting to see how the five M’s are present in Romans 12 also.

Here we have a description of what it means to be a disciple of Christ.


’I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual act of worship’

‘In view of God’s mercy’


This is our motive to worship God as disciples of Christ. I love the word mercy – but I prefer the more descriptive translation of the word ‘loving kindness’

We never forget those kind of people who show us true kindness because they love us even when we know we don’t deserve it.

God has shown as that manner of kindness in Christ.

The word ‘therefore’ points us in the direction of all that Paul wrote earlier in the letter about:

• His atoning sacrifice for our sin

• His free forgiveness by his grace

• His justification through faith in him

• The fact that there is now no condemnation for us in Christ

• That nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ

• Because of the love of God [’while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us’]


Our worship is in response to not only the mercy of God towards us but also because of the greatness of who God is.

Response: Offer your bodies

This is in the aorist tense which means that we do this once and for all. It is a life choice. And we live the rest of our lives on this basis.


When offerings were made to God in the Temple worship of Old Testament times the offering was to be without defect. The very best of the flock or herd was singled out for sacrifice. To offer less than this would not be a sacrifice.

In the same manner, true worship is the offering of the very best for God – to the point of being a living sacrifice.


Romans 12:2

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

cf[Don’t let this world squeeze you into its own mould]


"Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world."

Literally, this means "the schemes of this world

it means "be not conformed to the pattern of this age, the spirit of the age, the philosophy of thought and of life that surrounds us on every side."


I think that most of us as Christians are largely unaware of just how much we are influenced by the prevailing cultural views and influences of the age in which we live:

e.g. Pluralism, and being politically correct.

We can confuse truth and tolerance.

It is one thing to be accepting of a person who is radically different to us in matters of faith, but quite another thing to say that their ‘truth’ is of equal worth to our ‘truth’ in matters of religion.

The word transformed = METAMORPHISIS

-*Used of the transfiguration of our Lord.

- Uses in the 2 Cor 3 passage = as we behold the glory of the Lord we are changed from one degree of glory to another.

ANECDOTE Caterpillar to butterfly


Be shaped in your thinking and way of living by the paradigm of Scripture.


Part of Outworking = Service

Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. {Rom 12:4-5 NIV}

That is a beautiful picture of the church - the diversity of it.


We are limited – we contribute uniquely, but in a limited way.

What is your gift? We are urged to develop that gift in order to exercise that gift well.


In Westwood we are structured in such a way as to enable the members of our Fellowship to exercise their gifts. We operate in sectors of church life and we encourage folks to develop their gifts through training and coaching.



One of the most attractive aspects of the modern day New Testament Church is that of authentic Christian living.

People are less attracted to church because of our programs, but most attracted to church when they see and experience what it means to part of a Fellowship of Christians who live the life in their relationships with each other.

In verses 9-16 we have a description of how to go about this.

Just as in the previous verses we are to seek to excel in the use of spiritual gifts,

So we are also urged to excel in holy living.

The passage is summed up in the exhortation, ‘Live in harmony with one another’


This is one aspect of you folks at Westwood that I deeply appreciate. It is great to be the pastor of a responsive congregation who seek to live out together the principles of the Word of God.


(Practical and emotional support given – sometimes secretly – often openly)


"Love must be sincere."

The English word sincere derives from the Latin sincerus, which means "without wax." Roman merchants sometimes deceived their buyers by filling the cracks in clay jars with wax of the same colour. If the jar was filled with hot water or placed in direct sunlight the wax would melt. Honest merchants would in a sense hallmark their goods as genuine by marking them “sincerus’ meaning “without wax”.


Our love must also be genuine.

This kind of love is also to be seen and experience by outsiders – even to the point of loving our enemies.


Wouldn’t it be nice if we were never in the position of being unjustly treated by others and able to feel good towards everyone without effort?

But life is not like that. Sometimes we struggle with our feelings towards those who have wronged us.

But what does God’s word say to us?

Romans 12:19-20

Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. [20] On the contrary:

"If your enemy is hungry, feed him;

if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.

In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head."


It is not easy to not ‘take into account a wrong suffered’. But God says he will take care of it.


Is this an ongoing struggle you have as a Christian? God says ‘I will repay’ . Just get on with doing good to those who do you harm. At the end of the day you win and they lose if they don’t repent and do right.

Outsiders watch how we as Christians handle such situations. These trials of our faith reveal when our faith is genuine. This makes our witness powerful.


There are two creatures on earth that I find equally fascinating. One is the caterpillar and the other the chameleon. Chameleons have the amazing ability to alter their appearance in order to blend into their background. Christians who do this have no effective witness. On the other hand the caterpillar has the amazing ability to morph into something beautiful – a butterfly. The process makes the creature appear dead and silent for a while, but an inner transformation or metamorphosis is taking place. This is the manner of transformation God intends we undergo through offering our bodies as living sacrifices to God.

And when we me make this our life choice as believers in community the world will know that we are Jesus’ disciples by our love for one another.