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Summary: What does a church full of Christian Non-Conformists look like?

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9Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 10love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. 11Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. 13Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. 14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. 17Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. 18If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (NRSV)

We’re continuing our look at Christian Non-Conformity. We began this series with defining a CNC – a Christian Non-Conformist. It’s a reflection of the “hinge” you see when you turn over the Bible’s page between Romans 11 and 12. In Romans 1-11, you read all about God’s gracious sacrifice of grace for our sins. The great divide between grace and duty begins at chapter 12, and Paul tells us that a CNC will serve God as a response to all that grace he just described in chapters 1-11.

We saw that Paul defined the CNC as a person who resists conforming to this world’s ways, but relinquishes control of his life to Christ. What happens to us is similar to the life of a caterpillar as he changes to a butterfly in a cocoon. God uses His grace to transform a believer into a different strain of the human species – a child of God, born from above, living a life of sacrifice – in His name.

The practical conclusion about that change is that our theology – what we know about God – must determine and drive the actions of our everyday lives. The CNC follows Jesus, not the world’s fads, customs and behaviors; otherwise….why bother?

This week we will take a look at what a church full of CNC’s looks like. The passage before us is all about relationships, how CNC’s treat one another and work together so we can serve as God’s ambassadors to the world. There are six words that show the character of a CNC…

1. Genuine (in relationships)

To be genuine in relationships is the foundation of Christian living. If there was ever a character trait which does not conform to this world’s ways, it is truthfulness. A little girl had developed a bad habit; she was always lying. Once when she was given a St. Bernard dog for her birthday, she went out and told all the neighbors that she had been given a lion. The mother took her aside and said, “I told you not to lie. You go upstairs and tell God you are sorry. Promise God you will not lie again.” The little girl went upstairs, said her prayers, then came down again. Her mother asked, “Did you tell God you are sorry?” The little girl replied, “Yes, I did. And God said sometimes He finds it hard to tell my dog from a lion, too.” [1]

A CNC must be genuine; being false in relationships in any form is a form of lying. God hates it because it destroys relationships.

2. Gracious (to all people)

10love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.

There is a tendency to tear-down one another today, especially in American society. The old word “gossip” is generally thought of as being a “behind the scenes” or “behind the back activity”. Today it isn’t even that quiet; today even the ugly attitudes and rudeness of anger and careless words are flung around like cow dung in a pasture. The Scottish preacher Alexander MacLaren once wrote: Ugly Christianity is not Christ’s Christianity.

Gossip is the opposite of gracious. You cannot “show honor” to anyone if you’re willing to gossip about him or her.

A gossip separates the closest of friends. Proverbs 16:28b (GWT)

A Christian Non-Conformist does not accept the Jerry Springer way of relationships; we must be gracious towards one another.

3. Gathered (in worship)

11Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.

Our enthusiasm for worship (both in and out of the church) is a true indicator of spiritual health. I was reading our Book of Discipline the other day, and was amazed at just how relentless and comprehensive is the passage on how we are to care for one another concerning faithfulness at worship. It reminded me that we are accountable for being consistent in worship.

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