Romans 12 Doing Church in a Blended Congregation
Paul continues his admonition directed primarily, but not exclusively, to the Gentiles in the church at Rome. Rather than continuing in their previous lifestyles that were characterized by an absence of holiness and purity, he appeals to them to “present” their bodies “a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” Living a “holy” life is not an extraordinary demand; but as Paul said, it is “reasonable service”.
Presentation is mentioned first and then reformation is referenced secondly. To maintain the desire by our presentation, we must have a mental reformation or “renewing of . . . mind”. With presentation and reformation enjoined, we validate God’s will as be “good, acceptable and mature/perfect.”
As with the Jewish segment of the church in Rome, so it was with the Gentile segment; pride was a constant enemy of authentic Christian living. As a result, Paul admonished them to walk in genuine humility, as “each one” has been given a measure of faith. Keep in mind this isn’t written to or about the world, but the saints in Rome. Every Christian has been given a “measure” of faith for specific giftings and when the Body functions as a natural body does, we are “intradependent” not “independent”.
Grace gifts, or gifts given on the basis of the “measure” are listed: prophecy is exercised on the basis of faith, which comes by the Word of God; serving on the basis of our sincerity/motivation for serving; teaching on the basis of the comprehension of applied knowledge in a given field or area of thought; exhorting on the basis of the ability to communicate with simplicity and clarity of the applied knowledge; financial giving on the basis of liberality vs. stinginess; leading with diligence or endurance; mercy expressed with cheer vs. mutually commiserating with one another.
Paul then gives at least twelve characteristics of a united expression of the Body of Christ. 1) Genuine/authentic love, void of hypocrisy; 2) resistance to evil; ; 3) clinging (the word used when a man leaves his mother and father and then “clings” to his wife) or holding fast to what is morally upright; 4) real care and affection for one another; 5) deferring to others – i.e. giving others honor; 6) non-passive; 7) fervency in ministry to the Lord; 8) joy filled; 9) patience in tribulation as it produces endurance; 10) consistent prayer life; 11) demonstrateable compassion; and 12) gracious hospitality.
When these characterize the lives of the saints; the enemy will respond with an opposite spirit. Rather than retaliating, we speak blessing and don’t curse. We rejoice with them when they are blessed and weep with them when they suffer loss. That heaps coals of fire on their heads.
Our attitude within the Body is unity in mind, without self-promotion that is evidenced by a walk of humility. The closing line of verse 16 could be paraphrased “don’t believe your own press reports”.
Victimization by another brother or sister in the Body of Christ is a great challenge for most of us. Often times I want to lay hands on them; suddenly, rapidly and repeated – in Jesus’ Name! Keep in mind this church was comprised of a number of ethnicities. Blending them into a cohesive fellowship was a challenge. Yet Paul, who understood victimization, encouraged the saints in Rome to allow room for God to deal with the issues. Being gracious to those who would victimize us, acting in the opposite spirit can be a means of conviction by the Holy Spirit.
We then “overcome evil with good”.
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