“Be joyful in Hope, Patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice Hospitality” – Romans 12:12-13
When we consider what a faith community is called to look like, the Acts 2: 4
2-47 passage of when we meet together is often quoted. As I have considered this a lot and find it inspiring and challenging we still seem to use it to focus on the 2 hours we meet on a Sunday and to not consider the 166 hours we have in the rest of the week.
As I read and ponder Romans 12, more and more, I so want to be a part of a Romans 12 church. In 21 short verses I am struck with an outline that would take a lifetime to fulfill, but also if lived out would have to change those within the community and every life that a Church living like this would touch.
As we continue to refine and ask the question, ‘what does it mean to be a light in this world today?’ the blueprint is in Romans 12:1-26. There is no need to get caught up in arguing about age, race, standing in the community, sex or structure, but simply focus on how humans are supposed to live each day and reflect God’s love to others.
This is not simply something we do when we gather, this is just supposed to be who we are.
This is not a matter of strategising about what buildings, programs and staff we require to make a church grow, this is supposed to be the people of Christ living in the everyday. In the every day, every hour, 7 days a week.
Why have we complicated things so much?
“Love must be sincere, hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
Be devoted to one another. Honour one another above yourselves.
Never be lacking in zeal and keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord.
Be joyful in Hope
Patient in affliction
Faithful in prayer
Share with the Lord’s people who are in need.
And this is just verses 9 to 12. I have to stop reading, breathe deep and consider the depth of what we are called to simply in those 4 verses. If we lived this out, how different would our everyday look?
As you add to that many of the other guidelines in Romans 12 you begin to see the potential of what a Romans 12 community could really do in this world today:
Be a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God (v1)
Be transformed by the renewing of your mind (v2)
Be humble (v3)
Serve others in the gifts you have been given (v4-8)
Bless those who seek to hurt you (v14)
Live harmoniously with everyone (v16)
Treat everyone equally (v16)
Do not take revenge (v17-19)
Live in Peace (v18)
Love and serve others even when they don’t deserve it (vs20-21)
As the song says, “imagine all the people living life in peace”. Even those who don’t believe in God want to believe it is possible.
As Paul writes in Romans 12, his desire was to see faith communities be pockets of love in this world, glimpses of heaven amid chaos and hell. A Romans 12 community is where no one is talking about age, stage, programs, divisions, budgets, leadership, worship service styles, what music we can and can’t listen to, how we can make everyone feel comfortable. It’s asking the question how we can be more like Christ in every interaction, every moment of every day so that God’s love might shine. It is asking the question of everyone, no matter the age, race, sex or status. All who are included in the statement “each of you” (v3-4), which is everyone.
I feel blessed to be a part of a small community of people of all ages, who don’t always get it right, but seek to be a Romans 12 community. Maybe if our little Romans 12 light can join all the other little Romans 12 lights in the world, we just might see this broken world change for His glory. It is all we are called to do.
What is taking you away from being a Romans 12 light in this world?
What can we let go of, to free us up to be more focused on God’s call in this world?
When will we let go of all the entrapments of the western church and see what God can do?
This COVID ridden, fear of the unknown world needs some ‘Romans 12 light’. Imagine what all the people living life in peace could look like! I believe it starts with me, it starts with you, living in a way that shines little lights of humility, joy, hope, patience, service, equality, blessing to just one person today. I know it is not easy, but we have got to start asking the right questions, church. We have got to start putting aside the things that distract us from the real call and focus on the truth of Romans 12 for ourselves and each other and for the sake our hurting, broken world.