Romans: The Glory of the Gospel Part 36
Live in Christian Community – Romans15:1-7
Mosaic Rockford – Dave Spooner – July 22nd, 2018
- Almost all of the practical application of our faith focuses on relationships: our relationship with God, our relationship with others and our relationship with ourselves. These connections are where our faith is lived, demonstrated and experienced. Throughout this letter, Paul has been relentless in this goal to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of His name among all the nations (Rom. 1:5).
- In this section of the letter that we have been going through over the past several weeks, he has intently and specifically instructed us as to how we are to live integrated and interdependent as a community of faith. This is especially difficult for us who live in a culture in which individual rights and freedoms are a higher value than communal obligations and responsibility (other cultures are not like us in this respect: Asian, African, Middle Eastern, Latin American). Affluence brings independence (vs. interdependence) . . . we have money to buy an expensive coffin but don’t have 6 friends to carry it. This is one of the main reasons we are among the most medicated, lonely, isolated, relationally and organizationally dysfunctional, divorced, and incarcerated countries in the world. (I do think we are a great country with a wonderful foundation, however, we have things that must be improved.)
- Our Christian community and the quality and unity of our relationships should set us apart from the world and attract the world to us. This is why we should place the highest value on our collective community vs. our individual freedom, and why the devil works so hard to sow division and discord among us. United we stand, divided we fall. (John 17)
- After giving us the general rule to live in love with each other, not to judge others in our freedom or make one another stumble because of our freedom, Paul then continues to give specific instruction for relational living in chapter 15.
Help the weak
Rom 15:1 ESV
We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
- Those of us who are strong (mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically, socially, financially) have an obligation (i.e. responsibility because our faith expressing itself in love) to bear, support, carry, watch over the frailty, limitations and failings of the weak. We are not to look down on them but care for them in their weaknesses. (Ill. of climbing at Devil’s Lake, choosing activities, etc.). This means we slow down, wait, carry, make allowances for, accommodate, help, limit ourselves, and take their burden on ourselves. We don’t just live for ourselves or focus on ourselves to please ourselves. Life is more than me. Life is found in us, in our collective community verse my personal existence. We must intentionally burden ourselves for the benefit of others. This is Christianity and the way of Christ.
Please your neighbor
Rom 15:2-3 ESV
Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.”
- Because we have faith in Christ, we live to please our neighbor. We do things for them that please them. We do things for them for their good. We do things for them that will build them up. (Ill. from marriage – hangers, cleaning, books, movies, games, holidays – ill. from the neighborhood – lawn, trash, music, ill. from work – timelines, projects). Who we are and what we have is for us, but it is not about us. We live to give.
- Paul then uses Christ as the ultimate example of this: Christ did not live to please Himself (if that were the case he would have stayed in heaven). He lived to please the father by taking on the burden of us and our sin upon himself (Phil. 2, John 5:30).
Matt 20:28 ESV
The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
- Jesus gave up his privilege and his freedom for the benefit of others. This is how he lived, and this is why he died.
- Jesus obediently took upon himself the wrath from people who hated and railed against God. (Ill. of people who hate the father taking out on the son). We are also called to do this as those who are in Christ. We are to live in a way that pleases our neighbors, for their good and to build them up.
Be strengthened and encouraged by scriptures
Rom 15:4 ESV
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
- Scripture was written not for the benefit of the writer, but for our benefit and our instruction Through it we may be strengthened and encouraged and have hope. You cannot live the Christian life in your own strength. You must fuel yourself with scripture. In it you will gain the strength to endure and the encouragement to keep going. This is why we have so much information about so many lives in the Bible. This is why we have so much written for us. (Ill. Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Caleb, Danial, David, Ruth, Naomi, Jerimiah, Isaiah, Elijah, Elisha, Esther, Peter, Paul, John and the center point of Christ). Scripture is the well of our encouragement, it is the food of our strength, it is the promise of our hope, it is the light to guide us, it is the authority on which we stand, it is the very words of God. No one fails in their faith if they faithfully follow in the footprints of the Father.
- I have never seen a weak Christian who consistently feeds upon the word. If you want to grow strong in your faith, read the word and have it read you. Every time I find a struggling Christian, it is because they are failing in faithfully reading the word. When we do so, we are weak and vulnerable to deception, temptation, disruption and despair.
Live in harmony
Rom 15:5-6 ESV
May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- God calls Himself many things. Among them is “the God of endurance and encouragement.” This is what we are called to do because this is part of who God is. He is in us. He will help us to endure and give us encouragement. We are to endure and be encouraged so that we can live in harmony with each other: not looking to take the lead or be in the spot light, but to enhance and enrich the giftedness and coloration of the other. We are designed to be a mosaic. We do this because this is what Jesus did and this is what we are designed to do. Together, we with ONE VOICE will glorify God the Father. In our harmonious living God’s glory is revealed and magnified. Let us do whatever we can and play our part to live in harmony with others for the glory of God. Let us valiantly defend our unity and only do and say what works for unity and builds each other up according to our need.
Welcome one another
Rom 15:7 ESV
Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
- We are to welcome one another – all are welcome here, all classes, all colors, all conditions. None should be turned away or marginalized. We work really hard to do that here . . . and we are to do so as Christ has welcomed you (all people who call on the name of the Lord will be saved). The unity of our diversity glorifies the almighty. We are to be a community that welcomes all people as Christ has welcomed us for the glory of God.
- We must each do our part as we follow the footsteps of our father by living in abundant, lifegiving, Christian community. Let’s commit and give ourselves to living like this. Open your eyes, open your heart, open your calander, open your home. The strong are to help the weak. We are to focus on pleasing our neighbors, living in harmony, welcoming one another, and finding strength, encouragement and hope from the scriptures. We are to look to Jesus as our example and the author and perfecter of our faith.