So far in this series, Life with Jesus, we have talked about so many things. We talked about the positives, the negatives and the expectations that we have about this life. As we continue, I wonder if we are really living this life as Jesus wants us to or have we added and taken away from it? Have we made it into something that it was never intended to be? As I read the New Testament I am challenged that we are to live a life that draws people to us so that they ask us, “What is this hope that you have?” Maybe that is the question- Are we living in the hope of Jesus or are we living with the “hope” in man made religion and practices. How many of us are still trying to live a life where (hopefully) our good outweighs our bad. This is a mindset or a heart issue. Here is another question, “Do we love simply because we are called to or do we attach some kind of “string”? I have been studying this for a while and I am pretty sure that when Jesus went to the cross there were no “strings”. He said, “Father forgive them” in the middle of such struggle and torment (Luke 23:34). What are the “Strings” that we have attached? Here are a few but I am sure that there are more.
- Evangelism? We do good works (sometimes) so they will feel obligated to listen not just out of love.
- A debt to be paid back to us? If they owe us then they will come to “church” with us.
- Looking better to others? I want to been seen as a super Christian.
Romans 12:1-2 – Living a life of sacrifice
Here we see that it is because of the “mercies of God” we should live a life of sacrifice. What are the mercies? I believe it all starts with the hope of redemption because of the cross of Christ. The passages before (Romans 11:1-36) are talking about how even though Israel rejected God they had a hope of restoration to Him through Jesus Christ – This has not changed! The people that we come in contact with still have the same hope; and we have been called to reflect this hope to them. This life style is pleasing to God! If we sacrifice our comfort, desires and give our love with no “strings”, this life even becomes holy. This, I believe, is true worship- a life of surrender.
What is the thing that gets in the way of this lifestyle? When we conform to the world or to the religious life we cannot live a life of sacrifice. So, the passage says, “Do not conform”. For me this is awesome because I am a rebel at heart and believe that there are many other rebels out there. I understand that not everyone is a rebel at heart so this might be more difficult for you to change the statuesque. Let’s look at two areas in which we can or in which we do conform.
- 1. Conforming to the World – This is something that many “Christians” would say that they understand and try not to do. In reality what we find is that many have trained themselves to not do things that look like the world or even say things like the world, but in our hearts we are still conforming to the attitudes of the world. We might even go as far as saying our mindset is that of the worlds. Look at Luke 12:31-35. You see what we treasure or what has our focus that is where our heart is.
- 2. Conforming to the Religious – I believe that God is looking for people to stand against the statuesque when it comes to living this life with Jesus. What do I mean by statuesque? Well, just because we have programed the way we evangelize, the way we help people and the way we love does not mean it is the best way or that it even works. I often have wondered how we ended up thinking that a program is going to please God. I believe that true evangelism can only take place with intimate relationships. That means that we have to accept people for where they are, get to know them, listen to their story and really learn to love who they are. Then and only then do you have a chance to really speak the Gospel of Christ. But when you really think about it you will see that just by living a life of sacrifice in this manor you are reflecting Jesus and His good news.
We also see that we need to be transformed. The passage is really clear about how this happens. It is by the renewing of our minds. I believe that this is about living a life with the mindset of Christ. The only way that this happens is in our personal growth with God and with others. Remember that Jesus told us to love God and to love others. So, what can we do or what does this look like in this life?
Well, it starts with a deep desire and a passion to know God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit more today than you did yesterday and to continue this as you live this life. I know that it is easier to say it than to do it, but we must have this passion. Maybe we need to stop and ask ourselves, “Why are we not passionate about this?” What are the things that are getting in your way? Maybe, it’s time to take some time and ask Him to supply the passion in our heart. Sometimes we need to just make it a priority in our lives and stop making excuses.
The next step in our transformation is a deep desire and passion for intimate relationships with others. We need to get out of the locker- room of protection and step out onto the playing field. That means we are going to have to get over some things like our past hurts, bitterness, fear and anger and let God have them so that we can really become a starter in this sacrificial life. All these things that are getting in our way can be stopped if we start with forgiveness. Who do you need to forgive? Do whatever it takes- find someone to talk to or just stop being selfish and petty. God is bigger than all this and He will see you through.
We will continue to study out Romans 12 as we are learning about this life with Jesus.
In His Grip,