At the beginning of the month, I had the privelage of going to the Kiamichi Men's Clinic at the Greatest Gathering. There were many great speakers there, and I heard many things that compelled me to be more effective for the Kingdom of Christ. One of the speakers, Larry West, who is the father-in-law of Duck Dynasty's Jace Robertson, stuck out to me in several things he said. His passion is reaching people for Christ, and teaching the church (not merely preachers, elders, deacons, youth and children's volunteers, you know, the people who everyone assumes are SUPPOSED to do it) how to share the gospel of Christ to get as many to the Kingdom as possible. I loved it...but something he said in particular stuck out to me. He was once a C.A.V.E. Dweller (you know, Christians Against Virtually Everything). That got me thinking. There are things that Christians should stand up to and against, but is that the only thing they see us doing? What exactly are we FOR? The simple answer is found in Jesus' Response to the scribe: 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22) We are FOR God. In every way we should pursue God. We should love Him with everything. As students, parents, husbands and wives, lawyers, doctors, in napping, eating, sleeping...whatever and wherever and whomever God has placed before us should be about loving God. The reason we do anything, eating, speaking, whatever, should be to Honor God, and give Him praise. What would it look like if praise of God was natural in every conversation we had? SURE we might offend, or put some people off, but what would it look like if we genuinely let our lives be a living sacrifice, in which we pursued God with all we had? Secondly, if we are FOR God, than we are FOR our neighbors. Why? Because God loves our Neighbors, and HE is FOR them (you see how this works? The more we are FOR God, the more we are FOR what He is FOR). Not that God won't judge sin, and He is a God of Justice, but 2nd Peter 3 tells us: "8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed." God does not want ANYONE to perish, and so He is FOR your neighbor! Whatever they choose is between them and God, but if you are FOR God, you will be FOR your neighbor, willing to risk your social life, wealth, talents, and even life to bring them to the life that is truly life. What would your life look like if you were FOR your neighbor? What would be different if your neighbors knew what you were FOR instead of against?
Romans 12 English Standard Version (ESV)
A Living Sacrifice
12 I appeal to you therefore, brothers,[a] by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.[b] 2 Do not be conformed to this world,[c]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.[d]
Gifts of Grace
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, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members,[e] and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads,[f] with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
Marks of the True Christian
9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit,[g] serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.[h] Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it[i] to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
a Romans 12:1 Or brothers and sisters
b Romans 12:1 Or your rational service
c Romans 12:2 Greek age
d Romans 12:2 Or what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God
f Romans 12:8 Or gives aid
g Romans 12:11 Or fervent in the Spirit
h Romans 12:16 Or give yourselves to humble tasks
i Romans 12:19 Greek give place