Yeah its Friday! We are allowed to rejoice that it is Friday because we have also rejoiced over the other days of this week. We have a lot to rejoice about today; our Father has granted us another day of life as a gift; Jesus reigns in us and over us; we are empowered by the Spirit to overcome all obstacles today; we are loved and we love back; we have each other.
As we continue to read Romans 12 we are about to get smacked in the face. Paul is continuing to build upon his previous thoughts. So far we considered that if we allow our minds to be be re-made or born new we will be able to possess the mind of Jesus; gain his perspective. With that perspective we will be able to have a humble attitude toward those around us, which we need to be able to function as a member of the Body of Christ. This now leads us to the character description of who we are suppose to be as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, children of the Father. Let's take it a section at a time:
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. vv. 9-13
Does this describe you this morning? Yeah, I have the same thought; I trip over the first one too, Love must be sincere. Sometimes we fake it, don't we? As I go down through the list I realize I have not been a very good member of the Body of Christ. Have I always hated evil clinging to the good stuff or have I secretly enjoyed the misfortune of others? Have I been a means of unity or division? Can I honestly say that I have put others ahead of me? What about my zeal? How many years ago did I pack that away? Then it really hits me hard when I consider how many times I have given up on various members of the Body. This is what it takes to be the Church? If it is I have grown fat, lazy and self-centered. These are not mere words; this is who I am suppose to be as a follower of Jesus, a child of the Father, a member of the body. Lord forgive me.
There is more:
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. vv. 14-16
Do you begin to understand why we must allow our minds to be made new? Without the mind of Christ, the perspective of Jesus, we cannot "feel" as he feels. We cannot "see" as he sees. And we cannot respond to the people around us as he responded. We need his mind to filter what goes into our hearts. As members of the Body we can only function if we are able to bless others, to feel with others, to enjoy others, to include others, to honour others. We need to be all this so the Church can function properly.
Now for the hardest part of all:
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary:
"If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. vv. 17-21
If we want to live in peace with each other and to function together then we have to be willing to let go of our need for justice. We must be able to function according to God's mercy and compassion, to give grace to one another. Sometimes we consider this to be the attitude we need to have to live in this world and it is, but I ask you, how can we show this to the world if we can't show it to the members of the Body of Christ?
We get so caught up in other people's business, not understanding that each person must answer to the Father. These things are between our brother or sister and Dad. Even if it is an offense against us we are not to take it personal or allow it to affect our relationship with them. We trust that dad is going to take care of it. Be prepared though because his "taking care of it" may be a strong conviction of wrong with a hug and an "I forgive you". You may want to see blood but you will need to be satisfied with forgiveness. I liken this to the attitude toward capital punishment. Why would we want to cut short the opportunity for the Father to work his conviction on the person? Do we want revenge more than we want to see rehabilitation, forgiveness and transformation? As followers of Jesus our desire must be to see even our enemies transformed by the love of Jesus.
This is the Church. This is the job description, the character of every member of the Body of Christ. Love must be sincere before any of the rest of it is able to play out in us. The only way love can be sincere is if we are possessed by Jesus through the Spirit, being transformed into his character. This must be the description of who we are and how we function if we are to be healthy members of the Body.
There is a lot here to consider, it requires a lot of time for reflection. I know I need to change. I know for the sake of myself and my fellow members of the Body my mind needs to be renewed, my attitude adjusted and my heart transformed. Lord, forgive me for what I have allowed. Forgive me for what I have withheld from my brothers and sisters. Forgive me for my failure of character and action. Change me Lord. Renew my fervor and zeal for you, for the Body and for my purpose.