Summary: Being what God wants us to be in the church
Introduction: Over the past several months we have focused our attention on what it will take for our church to be the kind of church that Christ wants us to be - a caring, committed, Christ centered community. Today I would like to summarize those necessary building blocks to achieve this goal by looking at some practical pointers Paul penned in Romans. If we apply and practice these truths individually and corporately, God will be honored, the church will grow - numerically and spiritually, lost will be saved, and the church will make an impact on our communities. If we, hearing these truths, merely give mental ascent to their value and fail to change personally by making these truths part and parcel of our lives, we will bring dishonor to Christ. We will at best trudge on through a life of Laodicean or lukewarm mediocrity. The world will not want what we have and Satan will laugh with glee. Folks, if we are going to be what God wants us to be we must firstly...
I. BE SINCERE - vs. 9
A. Genuinely love. - Let it be the real thing
B. More people have been brought into the church by the kindness of real Christian love than by all the theological arguments in the world, and more people have been driven from the church by the hardness and ugliness of so-called Christianity than by all the doubts in the world.
C. John 13:35 "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."
D. Love - the visitors in church may not be able to explain it or define it, but they know when it is there and when it is not. A man will get up, dress, pass fifty other churches, and drive all the way across town if he knows that a warm experience awaits him with love and true fellowship in the house of God. For many, the love they receive in church is the only love they will experience all week long.
E. One of the greatest expressions of love is simply to notice people and to pay attention to them.
II. BE CONSIDERATE - vs. 10
A. Put others first - Luke 6:31 "And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise."
B. According to U.S. News & World Report (4/22/96), 89 % of Americans think incivility (or rudeness and lack of respect) is a serious problem:
73 % - Think mean-spirited political campaigns are to blame:
67 % - Think rock music is to blame
52 % - Think talk radio is to blame:
1 % - Think their own behavior is uncivil.
C. Philippians 2:3 "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves."
D. In the eternal triangle of Christianity, God is first, others are second, and self is last.
E. Christian maturity begins to grow when you can sense your concern for others outweighing your concern for yourself
F. A story comes to us out of the long ago of a king who organized a great race within his kingdom. All the young men of the kingdom participated. A bag of gold was to be given to the winner, and the finish line was within the courtyard of the king’s palace. The race was run, and the runners were surprised to find in the middle of the road leading to the king’s palace a great pile of rocks and stones. But they managed to scramble over it or to run around it and eventually to come to the courtyard. Finally, all the runners had crossed the finish line except one. But still the king did not call the race off. After a while one lone runner came through the gate. He lifted a bleeding hand and said, "O King, I am sorry that I am so late. But you see, I found in the road a pile of rocks and stones, and it took me a while, and I wounded myself in removing them." Then he lifted the other hand, and in it was a bag. He said, "But, Great King, I found beneath the pile of rocks this bag of gold." The king said, "My son, you have won the race, for that one runs best who makes the way safer for those who follow."