Wednesday, November 7, 2012

November 8, 2012

So, how do you respond in the wake of a national election that just repudiated your beliefs and values?
The Apostle wrote the challenge below to a Church that was engaging a pagan culture and ruled by a hostile government. He understood that the public practice of their Christian faith could be hazardous to their health. Afterall, remember that Paul was writing this 12th Chapter of Romans from prison for the crime of preaching Christ.
While times were a bit more extreme than our times but the truths still apply. What the great Apostle counsels them to do is sound advice for you today. Here are three things you should do to engage this rapidly changing culture you find yourself surrounded with.
You have two choices that face you today. You can surrender to your Christ or surrender to your culture.
Paul urges the former - "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is true worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."
You must decrease so Christ can increase. You must die to your selfishness and come alive in His holiness.
Have you surrendered to Christ?
You need to conquer your culture in the same way Christ did and the same way the Early Christians did - by serving it. Surrendered people serve.
You may be asking, "How should I serve?"
Paul provides specific answers - "For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.  For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully."
You may be asking, "Who do I serve?"
Primarily you serve your family and the faith community where God has placed you and you do it with joy!
Are you using your spiritual gifts and talents to serve your brothers and sisters?
Again, you have a choice! You can respond to your culture with cynicism or sincerity.
When you serve your fellowship and your community you must do it with the motive of giving not getting. You don't calculate or qualify friends or enemies, when you see a need you simply meet it. When you find a hurt you help to heal it. You give God's truth a chance to shine through your sincerity -  "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not think you are superior.17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 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. 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."
Do you believe the power of goodness is stronger than the power of government?  Will you live in sincerity or give into evil?
Be surrendered. Be a servant. Se sincere.