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Tuesday, February 6, 2024

How to Be a Christian

I've been thinking lately about Romans 12:9-21. I actually took a picture with my phone of the passage, and I keep looking at it and thinking about it. Basically, it's a description of how to really live out your faith as a Christian. Every day I take a look at it and take stock of how I'm doing, sort of like a checklist before launching a rocket ship. Here are things I've been thinking about in some of the verses:

Verse 9 "Let love be genuine." If you know about Greek words for "love" - this word is "agape" which means the kind of love that comes directly from God. It doesn't say that we should force ourselves to love - it says we should let the genuine love flow from God through us. I think in the Christian life sometimes we think we have to make something happen, when in reality if we sort of let go of the reins, God will make it happen (see 1 Thessalonians 3:12). Let God's love happen in you!

Verse 10 "Love one another with brotherly affection." This is not "agape" love. This is human affection. Basically this verse is talking about loving other believers in Jesus like family, like brothers and sisters. People don't always get along with their brothers and sisters very well, but in a loving family, they'll stand up for each other when the chips are down. I'm so glad I go to a church where people do care about each other! At your church, when the service is over, do people immediately leave and go to lunch? Not at my church. At my church, people are still there chatting and enjoying each other's company well after the service is concluded. Some of my favorite people are there - I want to talk to all of them! No church is perfect, but I think that's what this Scripture is saying.

Verse 11 "Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord" We have a vibrant volunteer culture at our church. I'm not sure how visible it is to members who aren't involved, but I'm on two different teams - worship arts and children's ministry - and in both of those contexts people are fired up about what we're doing for the Lord. I don't hear people talking like they are doing it because they feel obligated or because they want to be special (and that can be a real problem on worship teams!) - people genuinely see that God is doing something and we just want to be part of it.

Verse 15 "Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep." This past year my wife went through a serious health problem (maybe I'll talk about it in a future post), and it was really hard, but as soon as our brothers and sisters in Christ found out about it, they went out of their way to help us out. They prayed for us, brought us food when we were going through a rough patch, and when my wife wasn't able to come to church with me because of her treatments, everyone asked how she was doing. Do you know what effect it had on me? It made me want to be that person for someone else one day. I guess that's that whole "iron sharpens iron" thing, huh?

Verse 21: "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Do you notice what that does not say? It doesn't say "Be careful because evil can totally beat you up, so try to run away if you can!" It completely puts you and me in the driver's seat. If evil happens to us, it's because we let it overcome us. Instead we need to overcome it! It wants to beat us, but it can't unless we let it! That doesn't mean that evil won't come - ref: my wife's health problems last year. But when evil comes and tries to overcome you, the correct response is to apply good to the situation and overcome it instead!

How's THAT for a lot to chew on?

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