SUMMARY: WHAT A CARING CHURCH LOOKS LIKE

24 Jun

Romans 12:9-16:

  9Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. 10Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; 11not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;12rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, 13contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.

      14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation

Over the past several blogs, I  have focused our attention on what it will take for our church to be the kind of church that Christ wants us to be – a caring, committed, Christ centered community. Now I would like to summarize those necessary building blocks to achieve this goal by looking at some practical pointers Paul penned in Romans. If we apply and practice these truths individually and corporately, God will be honored, the church will grow – numerically and spiritually, lost will be saved, and the church will make an impact on our communities. If we, hearing these truths, merely give them a polite nod and fail to change personally by making these truths part of our lives, we will bring dishonor to Christ. We will at best trudge on through a life of  lukewarm mediocrity. The world will not want what we have and Satan will laugh with glee. Folks, if we are going to be what God wants us to be we must ….

BE SINCERE – vs. 9

9Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.
That means to genuinely love. – Let it be the real thing

More people have been brought into the church by the kindness of real Christian love than by all the theological arguments in the world, and more people have been driven from the church by the hardness and ugliness of so-called Christianity than by all the doubts in the world.

 John 13:35 “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”

Love – the visitors in church may not be able to explain it or define it, but they know when it is there and when it is not. A man will get up, dress, pass fifty other churches, and drive all the way across town if he knows that a warm experience awaits him with love and true fellowship in the house of God. For many, the love they receive in church is the only love they will experience all week long.

And one of the greatest expressions of love is simply to notice people and to pay attention to them.

BE CONSIDERATE – vs. 10

10Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor
Put others first –

Luke 6:31 “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.”
According to U.S. News & World Report , 89 % of Americans think incivility (or rudeness and lack of respect) is a serious problem:
73 % – Think mean-spirited political campaigns are to blame:
67 % – Think rock music is to blame
52 % – Think talk radio is to blame:
1 % – Think their own behavior is uncivil.
Philippians 2:3 “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.”
In the eternal triangle of Christianity, God is first, others are second, and self is last.
Christian maturity begins to grow when you can sense your concern for others outweighing your concern for yourself
A story comes to us out of the long ago of a king who organized a great race within his kingdom. All the young men of the kingdom participated. A bag of gold was to be given to the winner, and the finish line was within the courtyard of the king’s palace. The race was run, and the runners were surprised to find in the middle of the road leading to the king’s palace a great pile of rocks and stones. But they managed to scramble over it or to run around it and eventually to come to the courtyard. Finally, all the runners had crossed the finish line except one. But still the king did not call the race off. After a while one lone runner came through the gate. He lifted a bleeding hand and said, “O King, I am sorry that I am so late. But you see, I found in the road a pile of rocks and stones, and it took me a while, and I wounded myself in removing them.” Then he lifted the other hand, and in it was a bag. He said, “But, Great King, I found beneath the pile of rocks this bag of gold.” The king said, “My son, you have won the race, for that one runs best who makes the way safer for those who follow.”
Galatians 6:10 “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”

BE ENERGETIC – vs. 11

11not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord

Serve with fervor

Get rid of the lethargy and get some get-up-and-go

Samuel Chadwick once wrote “Spirit-filled souls are ablaze for God. They love with a love that glows. They believe with a faith that kindles. They serve with a devotion that consumes. They hate sin with a fierceness that burns. They rejoice with a joy that radiates. Love is perfected in the fire of God.”
John 10:10b “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
Are you proving that the Christian life is a joyful, happy life? Do you look happy that you are a Christian? Does your life radiate joy and enthusiasm? understand that the simplest man, fired with enthusiasm, is more persuasive than the most eloquent man without it.

BE PRAYERFULLY PATIENT – vs. 12

12rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer,
Get some camel’s knees – Pray! Pray! Pray!
“Christ’s soldiers fight best on their knees.”
I Timothy 2:1-3 “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. [3] For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior;”

I Thessalonians 5:17 “Pray without ceasing.”

BE WARM – vs. 13

13contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality
Show true hospitality.”Pursue the practice of hospitality”

“People go to the church that is dearest to them and not the church that is nearest to them.”

Proverbs 18:24a “A man that hath friends must show himself friendly…”
Singer John Charles Thomas, at age sixty-six wrote to syndicated columnist Abigail Van Buren: “I am presently completing the second year of a three-year survey on the hospitality or lack of it in churches. To date, of the 195 churches I have visited, I was spoken to in only one by someone other than an official greeter and that was to ask me to move my feet.”

Hebrews 13:2 “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

BE DIFFERENT – vs. 14

14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
Turn the other cheek – Matthew 5:39 “But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”
Jerry Vines -” Our churches are in serious trouble today. There is virtually no difference between the average church member and the person who is not a Christian. God meant for the Christian to be different, to live a different kind of life, and to be on a different moral level from those who are not Christians. And yet, there is practically no difference in lifestyle. ”

I Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:

Abraham Lincoln was once being criticized for his attitude towards his opponents. “Why do you try to make friends with them?” a colleague asked. “You should try to destroy them.” Am I not destroying my enemies,” the President asked gently, “when I make them my friends?”

BE UNDERSTANDING – vs. 15

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
Be there and share

Galatians 6:2 “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”

I am sorry for the man who can’t feel the whip when it is laid on the other man’s back. –Abraham Lincoln

More people fail for lack of encouragement than for any other reason.

Discouraged people don’t need critics. They hurt enough already. They don’t need more guilt or piled-on distress. They need encouragement. They need a refuge. A willing, caring, available someone.
Jewish Proverb states:
“Among those who stand, do not sit; Among those who sit, do not stand; Among those who laugh, do not weep; Among those who weep, do not laugh.”

BE ONE – vs. 16

16Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation

Be a team player

One mind – one heart – one Lord.

Psalms 133:1 “A Song of degrees of David. Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”

Some missionaries in the Philippines set up a croquet game in their front yard. Several of their neighbors became interested and wanted to join the fun. The missionaries explained the game and started them out, each with a mallet and ball. As the game progressed, opportunity came for one of the players to take advantage of another by knocking that person’s ball out of the court. A missionary explained the procedure, but his advice only puzzled the friend. “Why would I want to knock his ball out of the court?” he asked. “So you will be the one to win!” a missionary said. The man shook his head in confusion. Competition is generally ruled out in a hunting and gathering society, where people survive not by competing but by sharing equally in every activity. The game continued, but no one followed the missionaries’ advice. When a player successfully got through all the wickets, the game was not over for him. He went back and gave aid and advice to his fellows. As the final player moved toward the last wicket, the affair was still very much a team effort. And finally, when the last wicket was played, the “team” shouted happily, “We won! We won!” That is how the Church, the body of Christ, should be. We’re a team. We all win together.

Conclusion: You must decide whether to be or not to be…
TO BE SINCERE
TO BE CONSIDERATE
TO BE ENERGETIC
TO BE PRAYERFULLY PATIENT
TO BE WARM
TO BE DIFFERENT
TO BE UNDERSTANDING
TO BE ONE.
WHAT WILL YOU CHOOSE?

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