Summary: We are, as Christians and the Body of Christ, uniquely positioned to give ourselves to the glory of God and the good of others.
Title: Generous Living and Giving of Ourselves
Text: Romans 12:1-8
Thesis: We are uniquely positioned to generously give of ourselves for the glory of God and the good of others.
We are on a Pathway to Congregational Vitality. We want to be a Healthy Missional Church. By Healthy we mean we are pursuing Christ. And by Missioinal we mean we are pursuing what is important to Christ or Christ’s priorities.
In order to understand what being a Healthy Missional Church looks like, we are unpacking a series called: The Marks of a Healthy Missional Church. Researchers have found that there are at least ten marks, characteristics, traits, qualities, etc., that are consistently found in Healthy Missional Churches.
To date we have noted that The Marks of a Healthy Missional Church are:
• Compelling Christian Community
• The Centrality of the Word of God
• Life Transforming Walk with Jesus
• Global Perspective and Intentional Evangelism
• Transforming Communities through Active Compassion, Mercy and Justice Ministries
• Heartfelt Worship
• A Culture of Godly Leadership Through Fruitful Structures
Today we will unpack an eighth Mark of a Healthy Missional Church. We believe the Scripture teaches Healthy Missional Churches are characterized by Generous Living and Giving of Ourselves.
This week I read an anecdote from the life of Mary Queen of Scots. I do not pretend to be particularly knowledgeable of the history of the UK. But apparently Mary was loved by the Scottish people. They respected her grace and dignity. They honored her for the way she rose above the disappointments and challenges of her life.
She was so loved by the Scots that she could move about in public without the benefit of protective escort. One day while walking with some children, she ventured a bit farther than she’d planned and found herself caught in what was to be a rain storm. So she stopped at a nearby house and asked if she could borrow an umbrella, promising to return it the following day. The lady of the house was reluctant to lend the lady her best umbrella so she lent her one destined for the trash bin.
The next day the lady heard a knock at her door and when she opened the door she was greeted by a royal guard who returned the tattered umbrella saying, “The Queen sent me and asked me to thank you for loaning her your umbrella.”
Of course the woman was mortified to think that she had missed the opportunity to give the Queen her very best. Today I want to talk about what is entailed in giving to God our very best.
We are uniquely positioned as Christians, living and serving in the body of Christ, to please God.
I. Positioned to Please God
Give God your bodies - “…be a living sacrifice – the kind he will find acceptable. This is the true way to worship him. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2
Offering our lives as living sacrifices to God puts a new spin on our understanding of sacrifice. This is not about the taking of life as an offering to God. It is about the giving of life as an offering to God.
The word worship or service is an unusual word. Typically when we think of service we think of working for hire. The employee gives his body to an employer who gives the employee pay in return.
In our capitalist culture we understand the concept of service and services. There are business services, financial services, consulting services, legal services, educational services, food services, personal services, telecommunication services, lawn services, transportation services.
When our A/C failed last summer and we had a “serviceman” check it out we discovered we also needed a new furnace. So we needed the services of what they call HVAC guy for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning. The HVAC guy we hired promised to give us good service before and after the sale. His bid was very reasonable. There was no thought of trying to “chisel” him. (I hate it when pastors try to weedle a “clergy discount” from business people, as if God needs a good deal!) There is an understanding that when someone provides a service there is the expectation of remuneration.
But that is not what our text means by our giving of ourselves as living sacrifices as being our reasonable service of worship for God.
In this case… It means to give oneself completely to something. It means to give your body and all that you do with it, to God - everywhere and at all times.
The idea is captured in I Corinthians 10:31 which says, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”