Summary: The call to living a holy lifestyle as a Christian Non-Conformist
1And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. 3Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. 4Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, 5so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. 6In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. 7If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. 8If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. (The New Living Translation)
For the next three weeks we will be focusing on what Paul said we are to be – Christian Non-Conformists. Weeks #2 and 3 will be on the “how-to’s” of living the Christian Non-Conformist life and what a church full of that kind of person looks like. Today our focus is on the definition, what, exactly, IS a Christian Non-Conformist? There is a key word which answers that question – therefore.
Paul’s revelation in chapter 12 is the hinge of a great propositional truth. That truth is that, for believers our theology (who God is, and what our relationship to Him should be) must drive our everyday life and actions. Who He is defines who we must be.
You can see that if you consider the first eleven chapters of Romans as Paul laying out the theology (picture) of God and His redemptive work. Paul states exactly that; then you turn the page and chapter twelve begins with therefore. He is saying, since God is like that – we must therefore live like this. Chapter twelve begins the unfolding of the wonderful ways in which redemption rearranges our lives, and makes us Christian Non-Conformists. Belief defines our behavior, not Calvin Klein or Nike!
You could compare Paul’s teaching to a hike in the Rocky Mountains. In chapters 1-11 we are led up one slope to the high point of the Continental Divide; it is the place where the direction of rivers changes. If a raindrop falls on one side it will run east; it’s “brother” drops a few inches on the other side and will forever run west. “Therefore” is Paul’s theological divide between grace and works. The first eleven chapters teach us the grace of God, his plan for redemption. In starting chapter 12 with “therefore” Paul straddles the divide and points to the moral authority that grace has purchased, and the expectations it places on the believer.
Do you recall the old hymn “At Calvary”?
Oh the love that drew salvation’s plan;
Oh the grace that bro’t it down to man,
Oh the mighty gulf that God did span, At Calvary.
Mercy there was great, and grace was free;
Pardon there was multiplied to me;
There my burdened soul found liberty At Calvary.
These words are chapters 1-11, full of God’s grace and mercy freely given in the cross of Calvary. Then comes “therefore”:,
Now my raptured soul can only sing Of Calvary.
This is where duty kicks-in. This is where God’s expectations of how we will live this life freely given begins to take shape. Chapters 1-11 have God’s unconditional love reaching down and blowing away the death-grip sin had on us like so much chaff in the wind. Then, with a simple “therefore” chapters 12-16 point us to the truth that we have been given a clean slate, and we must use it wisely. “You’ve been set free, slave…now live like a free person; live this way!”
Now, I won’t give you all Paul said today (we’d be here until two months from next Saturday)…this morning we’ll just focus the outline of what it means to be a Christian Non-Conformist (CNC). We have before us two statements about what a CNC does which describes what a CNC is.
1. Christian Non-Conformists Resist our Culture’s Control