Summary: God has loved you, adopted you as His child, and given you the gift of the Holy Spirit. Now God demands our love in return, and instructs us to demonstrate our love in selfless service to others.
How Now Must We Love? – Putting Legs On The Vision
Rom 12 August 28, 2005
How now must we love?
For the past number of weeks we have been talking about our church vision – of Loving God through worship, like a festival. Of loving one another to fruitfulness, like a greenhouse. And of loving others into the Kingdom of God, like a spiritual hospital.
Most of you wouldn’t argue. And after a number of years with me preaching this message, you can all probably quote Matt 22 from memory: “36"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 37Jesus replied: " ’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[b] 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ’Love your neighbor as yourself.’[c] 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." We would agree that the message of the Kingdom of God is a message of love.
But what does that mean? How do we do it? Where do we as a church not do it currently? How now must we love?? This morning I want to put some legs on the vision. Get specific. Be pretty blunt. I’m planning to cover a lot of ground this morning, so I need you to sit up, pay close attention, and listen with your heart. For every ministry that I talk about, I want you to ask yourself two personal questions: does this excite me? Has God given me a spiritual gift that I can use to see God’s Kingdom come in this ministry?
Romans chapter 12 covers all three areas of our church vision, in order even, and Paul gets pretty blunt. I’m going to use that as a template for our conversation this morning.
Loving God Through Worship: The Church As A Festival
Rom 12:1-2 talks about worship. “1Therefore, 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. 2Do not conform any longer 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.”
Here is our church philosophy of worship: worship is a lifestyle, not a once/week activity. I would go one step further even, and suggest that every single person on this planet lives a lifestyle of worship, and you can tell what they worship by how they spend their time and money and energy. Some people worship themselves, some money, some physical health or beauty, some worship personal power or family or TV or shopping or entertainment or sex or celebrities. In your life, what does how you spend your time and money and energy say about what you worship? We, however, are called out of that idolatry into a worship of the living God, “in view of God’s mercy” – in other words, being reminded of how incredibly much God has done for us – and into a worship that is “living”. That is a “sacrifice”. That is different from the world. That, my friends, is how we are to live each and every day. And “this is your spiritual act of worship”.
We sometimes forget that bigger picture, thinking that “worship” is what we do on Sunday in church. Here our language reveals more truth than we might imagine. We “go to a worship service” – that isn’t what Rom 12 talks about! We sing “worship songs” – that’s not there either! We meet in a “place of worship” – I don’t read about that in Rom 12! I’m not saying that those are not a valid part of worship, but my friends they must be a small part simply by the amount of time each week we do that! We each have 112 waking hours in a week, assuming 8hrs/sleep. Our “worship service” is supposed to be 75 minutes long. That is 1.3%. God doesn’t want our worship 1% of the time, He wants it 100%. That is what Paul means by “offer your bodies as living sacrifices” – it is our whole selves, our whole time, our whole love. Loving God through worship means living a lifestyle of worship.
How do we put legs on that vision? As a church we have two primary ministries devoted to helping us love God through worship. The first is what we do during that 1% of the time when we gather corporately to participate in an activity we call “worship” – here I am talking about our 9:30am Sunday worship service. How do we make it a “lifestyle”? We try to relate it to life. I spend an average of 8hrs each week preparing a message that I pray will motivate/teach/inspire you to live a Christian lifestyle, which is “your spiritual act of worship”. We pray for one another, deeply and meaningfully, and we choose songs and music which we believe will relate to our lives and culture and which will be consistent to what we listen to during the rest of the week. According to the NCD survey I mentioned earlier, this is an area we need to spend more time on, but that is why we currently do what we currently do.