2020 - Romans
If someone were to ask me, this morning, what does it mean to be a Christian… (ask?)
I could give a variety of answers…
--If you had asked me what it meant to be a Christian last year, I would have given you a covenant answer. Being a Christian means we are in a covenant relationship with YHWH. The blood of Jesus created the New Covenant. When we are baptized, we enter into that covenant with the LORD. Being a Christian means we live in the mercies of the New Covenant. That was last year’s answer.
--If you had asked me in 2018 what it meant to be a Christian – that was the year we studied The Story – I would have answered that being a Christian means we step into the Story of God. We are in the Story of the recreation of the world. Being a Christian means we advance the endless story of life! In 2018, that would have been a great answer. Being in the Story of God is what it means to be a Christian.
--If you had asked me in 2017, as we studied the Gospel of Mark, I would have answered that being a Christian means to be a fearless witness of the resurrection of Jesus of Christ. “Do not be afraid! You are witnesses of the Gospel. That is what it means to be a Christian.” That would also have been a spectacular answer.
But, you asked me what it means to be a Christian, this morning, while we are doing Romans Backwards. The answer to what it means to be a Christian in 2020 is… found in Romans chapter 12. In fact, Romans 12, is a checklist of what it means to be a Christian. There are seven boxes on the checklist of what it means to be a Christian.
Let’s look at the checklist of being a Christian. By the way, as we go through these, do a little self-evaluation to see if you are living up to what it means to be a Christian. Check the boxes which are appropriate.
What it means to be a Christian Checklist…
Box 1) Be a Living Sacrifice.
Box 2) Be Transformed.
Box 3) Do not be SuperMinded.
Box 4) Know your Praxis.
Box 5) Be Unwaxed.
Box 6) Boil in the Spirit.
Box 7) Have One Mind.
How did you do? Some of those boxes you may not be able to check yet. I need to do some ‘splanin’.
In my videos, while we were closed, we explore the first two boxes…
Box 1) Be a Living Sacrifice.
Romans 12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Because of the overwhelming mercies of God, explained in the first 8 chapters of Romans, we are compelled to offer our bodies as living sacrifices on the altar. We live our lives of sacrifice on the altar. We resist hopping off. Our modus operandi is to live as sacrifices. We don’t live for ourselves. We live to be set apart. We live to be acceptable to God. It is the only reasonable response to God’s mercy. Live on the altar for him.
Check the box… if you have committed to live your life for God, instead of yourself. Check the box if you have given your life to God as a living sacrifice.
Box 2) Be Transformed.
We have also looked at box two on the videos.
Romans 12:2Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
We are not cookie cutter cutouts. We do not live based on the values of the world. We are, instead, metamorphosized into butterflies. Our minds are restructured to do the will of God. We live to do good. We live to be acceptable. We live to do the will of God in small acts of perfection. We offer our Twinkies and root beer. That is the will of God!
Wow, we are transformed into Twinkie-Sharers!
Check box two if you offer Twinkies, metaphorically, to the hungry!
Box 1 and Box 2 we have already studied. This morning, we are going to do Box 3 and 4. We will leave 5 ,6, & 7 till next week.
Box 3) Do not be a SuperMinded.
Romans 12:3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think…
The literal Greek word for more “highly than he ought to think” is… hyper-phro-neo. This word is a combination of hyper and phro-neo; high + thinkers or the most + considered or SuperMinded. The third box is to not be SuperMinded; Not to think of yourself to highly.
Wow, this may be as hard a box to check as any on the list. I have thought about this for several years now. The thought of SuperMinded has even made my list of principles to live by; number 2b.
2b. Nobody wants your opinion, unless you are an expert. You aren’t an expert unless you have spent 10,000 hours on the subject. Otherwise, your facts are probably wrong or incomplete. But in any one topic there are people who know 1000x more than I do. So, if I have an opinion on any of these things, it’s either useless or harmful. Almost everything is complicated. We can’t be SuperMinded about things we hardly know.
Humility is the only way to live a life on the altar. Humility is the only way to see God. Being SuperMinded is a show stopper to a Christian. It is not what it means to be a Christian.
Check the box if you don’t take yourself to seriously. You understand you don’t understand everything.
Now, on the other side of this, is Box 4.
Box 4) Know your Praxis.
Romans 12:3-6…but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them:
The Greek word translated as function is praxis. Definition…Praxis is the process by which a theory, gift, or skill is enacted into practice. Praxis is the practical application of a theoretical idea. "Praxis" is the act of engaging, applying, exercising, realizing, or doing what we are gifted to do.
God has grace-gifted you in the body. Here is a body metaphor. The body metaphor is one of Paul’s favorite. Paul views the church as a body; the body of Christ. You have a function as a member of the body. The praxis is doing it. In the body we know and do our praxis.
Over the years of my ministry here, the members of this body have changed. But the needs in the body are always met. That is fascinating. That is a mercy from God. God has faithfully provided the members with differing gifts to meet the needs of the body.
The renewed mind sees itself not as an individual around which the world revolves (the star of their own show; the SuperMinded). The humble mind understands its place, its function in the body. However, it is not arrogant to know your grace-gift. It is necessary. It is what it means to be a Christian. Christians know their praxis in the body. The Christian functions within the body!
Paul lists seven examples of praxis. This is not an exhaustive list. Rather, these are examples of how we can function in the body of Christ.
Romans 12:6-8 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
Here is Paul’s praxis list…
--Prophecy: having a message for God, speaking for God according your faith. God uses you to speak for Him.
--Serving others: The caregiver gives. God bless the caregivers.
--Teaching: Those who have the gift of imparting knowledge are precious to the LORD!
--Encourage: Those who know the right thing to say, keep the rest of us going. Having the right word of encouragement is a valuable gift.
--Giving: We don’t always see this as a praxis. Being generous with money is a blessing! It keeps us afloat.
--Leadership: is to be done with zeal. No grumpy leaders. Step up and lead with enthusiasm; with zeal!
--Mercy: showing kindness with cheerfulness demonstrates the love of God. It is a precious gift.
Checking Box 4 means you know your function in the body. We humbly use your grace-gifts in the body. We know our praxis. Check the box.
What it means to be a Christian has a variety of good, scriptural answers. This year the answer is found in Romans 12. We will continue next time to check the rest of the boxes on our checklist.
Let me close with our verses from the NLT
NLT Romans 12:3-8 As God's messenger, I give each of you this warning: Be honest in your estimate of yourselves, measuring your value by how much faith God has given you. Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ's body. We are all parts of his one body, and each of us has different work to do. And since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others. God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well. So, if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out when you have faith that God is speaking through you. If your gift is that of serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, do a good job of teaching. If your gift is to encourage others, do it! If you have money, share it 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.
Don’t be SuperMinded.
Know your Praxis.
May 31, 2020
Los Alamos Church of Christ
Copyright © 2021 Los Alamos Church of Christ - All Rights Reserved.