Summary: As a member of a church we have priviledges and responsibilities. Are we keeping the comittments we made to God?
Membership has its privileges!
What a visual image Paul has crafted for our consideration.
Because of God’s MERCY we are to offer ourselves as living sacrifices.
Living, we are not to kill ourselves or be killed by others. We are to offer ourselves to God being holy and pleasing to Him.
In the Israelite worship, sacrifices were plentiful and repeated at least yearly. But for the sacrifice to fulfill its purpose, it had to die.
The pattern was that the animal was a substitute for the sinful person. The animal took the punishment that the person, family and nation deserved.
Our reading this morning is describing the response of people that believe in Jesus and his saving actions on their behalf.
In other places in scripture Jesus is described as being the sacrifice that replaced the physical animals.
Now here in Romans Paul explains what a believers response should be. The response is basically to realize that we owe everything to God’s mercy. If it were not for His mercy we would be facing a dark future.
A second part of a believers response is that we are to stop being anonymous and comfortable in THIS WORLD.
We are to stand out both physically and spiritually because of our understanding of God and His mercy. We stand out because we live a life of sacrifice out of gratitude.
Paul describes how we should view ourselves, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”
We can’t have pride in our judgment or how much faith we have compared to others. Because even our judgments and faith were provided by God. We only came to faith by the actions of God in the first place so we can’t take any credit because God gave us what we have for a purpose.
We are to be the living body of Christ in this world, which means that many believers come together to create a healthy representation of the body of Christ. With all our similarities and especially our differences we belong together.
Let me remind you of some words that we have recited several times this year already and untold number of times over our lives as Christians.
As members of this congregation we will faithfully participate in its ministries, by our prayers, our presence our gifts and our service.
If you are a member of this church you made this pledge.
If you have been in the congregation when the church has had a baptism you participated in this pledge.
The question that I am struggling with is why does that pledge seem so hard for people, the body of Christ, to keep?
Now don’t get me wrong, I know this pledge is not a guarantee that any one of us will always be perfect.
In fact, I don’t even believe that a single one of us is capable of keeping this pledge for even a short time as individuals.
The purpose of the body of Christ, a congregation, is that together we will come closer to representing Christ in this world better than any one of us will ever do alone.
Paul starts talking about gifts next.
We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
In high school, I was a member of the band not a rock band but the school band which is not quite as cool. For a while I played trombone and in the last two years I played the sousaphone. In a band there are many levels of expertise. I was never a great musician. But there were some that were really pretty good at playing their instrument. And there were a few that were great, they got the solo parts. To be a member to the school band you had to signup. You had to get your instrument and come to practice.
If you did the basic stuff, you got some privileges. We went to foot ball games. We got out of school for band competitions and special concerts. If we committed to being in the band and met the basis rules, show up for practice and for the performance, it did not directly matter how good we were.
We were in the band.
As for what Paul is talking about, each member of a congregation must act on the grace given to him or her. Your gift is your instrument that you bring to practice and concerts.