Summary: Being a Christian means a lot more than going to church on Sunday morning. God wants us to live our life of love 24/7.
Almost nine months ago, we sent out postcards announcing the opening of our church here in Doral. The first postcard that we sent out had the picture of a young woman on it who is quoted as saying: “When I walked out of my parent’s church, I never thought I’d walk back in. For me church was all about rules, uncomfortable clothes, and trying to stay awake. It was watching my parents act like saints on Sunday and sinners the other six days. If that was church, you could have it. I had moved on in my life – I didn’t need church.”
What does it mean to be a Christian? Does it mean coming to church every Sunday? Is it just a “going through the motions”, saying the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostle’s Creed, singing some inspiring hymns and then trying to stay awake during the sermon? Is that what being a Christian means to you? Is it just a one day a week commitment?
Well, this morning, the Apostle Paul is going to encourage us to be Christians 24/7: twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. We read from the Paul’s letter to the Romans chapter twelve (Romans 12:1,2,17-21)...
I. In view of God’s mercies
Paul here “urges” us, encourages us to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, to be transformed, to be Christians 24/7. The word used here in our text for “urge” in classical Greek meant to encourage troops on to the battle.
You know, it’s difficult to encourage troops to go into battle – to face death – when they don’t know what they are fighting for or why they are there. We need encouragement, a reason for entering the long hard battle against sin. Paul gives us that reason here. He encourages us to enter that great battle of faith “in view of God’s mercies.”
The prophet Jeremiah tells us that God’s mercies, his compassion for undeserving sinners is new every morning. Every day, 24/7, God grants us clothing and food, house and home... cable TV and the internet. Every day, 24/7, God covers us with the warm blanket of forgiveness and salvation.
We don’t deserve it. We are the ones who on Sunday sing his praises and confess his name, but then suddenly change our tune during the week. We are the ones who, to fit in with the guys at work, let foul language come out of our mouths. We are the ones who watch things we shouldn’t on TV and the internet. We are the ones who pray for our poor neighbors on Sunday and then on Monday we trash those same neighbors with our gossip. We are the ones that trust God whole-heartedly on Sunday morning, but then are unable to sleep that night due to our doubts and worries. We are sinners 24/7.
But that is why God’s mercies are so comforting. When Jesus died on the cross, he suffered the punishment for all the sins that we were to commit. God’s forgiveness covers us completely, like a warm blanket on a cold night. Every day we see his mercies, his love, his protection in our lives. And most importantly he gives us an eternal home in the perfection of heaven, where we will be with him enjoying the bliss of heaven – 24/7 – forever.
So, with our eyes firmly fixed on his love and mercy, God now encourages us to go into the battle, to fight the good fight of faith to thank him for all that he has given us in his mercy. He promises to give us the strength. He promises to be with us every step of the way. So in view of God’s mercy, let us engage our enemy and enter into the fight of faith.
II. Being transformed.
And we do that by offering our bodies as living sacrifices to God – our spiritual act of worship. Worshiping God is not something to be done only on Sunday. Worshiping God is not limited to just saying prayers and singing hymns. God wants us to worship him 24/7, to offer our bodies, our hearts, our minds – our all – to him. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God.” Everything we do as Christians out of thanks for God’s mercy is part of our spiritual worship. So think about that the next time you’re on the internet or talking with your friends or watching TV. Is what I’m doing bringing glory to God?
You see, when God brought us to faith, a transformation took place. God really started this war which takes place within us. Before we believed there was no struggle. We did as we saw fit. We looked out for ourselves. We were selfish. But now through Word and Sacrament, the Holy Spirit has entered into our hearts. We now have a Christian within us who is constantly at war with our old sinful nature and with this sinful world.