Summary: Membership has priviledges and responsibilities.
Membership has its privileges!
Since he is writing to gentiles he seems to be trying to help his readers to understand what would make the God of Israel God move from having an exclusive relationship with Israel and reach out to the Gentiles that lived nothing like the Jews.
Last week we saw where Paul said that he was supposed to preach the good news plainly. And in this letter to the church in Rome…a place that he has not visited before he tells them that God is reaching out to the Gentiles for one reason and how that should affect how they live.….
Because of God’s MERCY we are to offer ourselves as living sacrifices.
Back then, everyone knew why you sacrificed.
If you were a Jew it was for atonement…forgiveness. Your sins were transferred to the animal and it was killed for your sins against God. The gift of represented a tangible cost that was offered to pay the penalty.
Or it was as celebration of what God had done for your family, harvest, healing, escape from enemies and even future blessings. Your gift represented your acknowledgement and even trust in God as you brought the first and best for your worship
But Paul is writing to Gentiles in Rome…people with pagan back grounds.
You sacrificed to please the gods. You sacrificed to receive favor. You sacrificed to feed the gods so, that they would do something for you. You sacrificed to gods depending on your needs and desires.
So, everyone understood a need for a sacrifice but they had a different understanding of how and why they sacrificed.
Paul explains that they and we are to present our bodies as Living sacrifices…..
That is a bit different, normally as sacrifice was killed to consumed in the act of giving.
Paul is describing something different. We are to offer our selves as living, holy and pleasing to God.
-- Holy means, exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness right…?
-- Have you been able to make yourself holey lately?
I have some holy shirts and pants and I was able to make them that way.
But, I would never feel right wearing them to church on a given Sunday.
So how can I present myself as being holy? Let me say, that depends
When I look at those old faded jeans with wholes in them and I decide that I am only going to use them when I work on a dirty job around the house I am making them holy. I am setting them apart par a special use.
--- In the scripture context, Holy means to set apart for service or worship of God.
We can start the process of making ourselves holy by giving…sacrificing...our own lives to God.
We are not to kill ourselves or allow others to kill us in service to God to become holy. God makes us holy when we actually make the commitment. Then we are to LIVE a life that is given to God and that is pleasing to God.
In those first few verses we find another expected response to God’s mercy, we are to stop being anonymous and comfortable in THIS WORLD.
This holy life will transform us into people that can start to understand what the will of God is.
I don’t know about you, but I ask God to help me know His will all the time. And sometimes it happens.
Paul is explaining that they only way we will really start to understand the will of God is for us to allow Him to change us. He will change our minds, our views of the world, the views of what we see on the news the views of some of the people we know.
Then 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 a little while ago.
As members of this congregation we will faithfully participate in its ministries, by our prayers, our presence our gifts and our service.