Summary: Authentic relationships in truly Christian community have far greater appeal than church programs. All will know we are Christians by our love.
CREATING HEAVEN ON EARTH IN CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY
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.
1. A DISCIPLE OF CHRIST WORSHIPS GOD TOGETHER WITH OTHERS v1-2
’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.