Summary: What is the uniform that a Christians wears that makes him or her different? It is one that he doesn't take off at night or put on in the morning - for it is his/her LIFESTYLE
Sermon Romans 12: 9-21
Story A young police cadet was taking his final exam for the police academy. And he was confronted with this question:
“You are on patrol in the outer city when an explosion occurs in a gas main in a nearby street.
On investigation you find that a large hole has been blown in the footpath and there is an overturned van nearby.
Inside the van there is a strong smell of alcohol.
Both occupants—a man and a woman—are injured.
You recognize the woman as the wife of your Chief of Police, who is at present away in the USA.
A passing motorist stops to offer you assistance and you realize that he is a man who is wanted for armed robbery.
Suddenly a man runs out of a nearby house, shouting that his wife is expecting a baby and that the shock of the explosion has made the birth imminent.
Another man is crying for help, having been blown in the adjacent canal by the explosion, and he cannot swim.
Describe in a few words what actions you would take.”
The young man thought for a moment, picked up his pen and wrote,
“I would take off my uniform and mingle with the crowd.”
An amusing story -but it got me thinking:
If the police uniform makes a policeman distinctive from others then what uniform makes a Christian distinctive
And if the police uniform carries with it responsibilities then what responsibilities does wearing the Christian uniform give us?
Well the Christian uniform is not the cassock and surplice that a clergyperson wears on Sunday.
Rather the uniform lies in the way we live.
It is a uniform we wear that can be easily seen and yet requires “no putting on each morning or taking off at night”
What is it then
Perhaps we should go to Jesus for the initial answer
In Jn 13:35 Jesus said this:
This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
He also told us that the two greatest commandments were to
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
38 This is the first and greatest commandment.
39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’
40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Mt 22;37-40)
In Greek - the original language of the New Testament - there are four words in Greek that are translated by our word: Love
1. Agape (???p? agápe):
This is divine, unconditioned love.
It is the unconditional love that we as Christians receive from God as agape love.
2. Eros (???? éros):
Romantic love. Often equated in ancient Greek, with desire. Sometimes this is also equated with "lust".
3. Philia (f???a philía):
Philia expresses love and friendship which is "platonic".
4. Storge (st???? storge)
This love is best translated as natural affection.
(my thanks to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_words_ for_love)
But of these four loves -it is the “Agape” Love that goes to the very heart of the Gospel.
God doesn’t want us to run round keeping lots of
rules and regulations.
He does NOT want us to wear ourselves out - by observing various extravagant religious practices – however good they may be.
You don’t have to be an achiever in God’s eyes – it’s your attitude of heart that He’s interested in
The Christian’s uniform is “Love with a new heart” that God gives us
But what does this uniform look like
This uniform is described in Romans 12:1-3
Paul writes this:
12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
2 Do not conform 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.
In other words, if we claim to be Christians – it is not simply accepting the creeds. No it is more than that. It is living the consequences of what we believe.
We are saved by believing in faith in Jesus Christ ( we called that SALVATION – a one off event) but once we are saved through Christ we enter a process of making us more like Christ (we call that Sanctification)
St Paul puts it like this in Ephesians 2:8-10 (NIV)
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.