This following post is adapted from Ps Mark Kelsey's message on Sun 19th August, at the C3 Oxford Falls 10am service. Watch the service here.
“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honour. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honourable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 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.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." Romans 12:9-21 ESV
Goodness. God wants us to be good. We all want to be good but tend to struggle. What is the biblical perspective of good? Integrity, character, honesty, good deeds.
We need to establish the case for goodness
- It's good to be good
- God is good
- We are called to imitate his nature and reflect his image
- Good defines the New Testament believer
Romans 12:9 is the job description for the church but we cannot do this in our own efforts but the Holy Spirit. Your best defence is your behaviour not what you believe (1 Timothy 4:12; Titus 2:7). We want the community to look at the church and see behaviour that matches what we confess to believe.
Being good is just good theology!
- Believe that either you have to be good before you come to God.
- Once I have God good doesn’t matter.
- Good theology is I get God whether I'm good or not then I can become good. (Ephesians 2:8-9, 2 Peter 1:3-5)
- We are never good enough to come to God so God says I’m going to come to you! Once we have God it’s time to be good (2 Peter 1:3-5).
Getting good is a process
Becoming good is a process that is painful but character building for us (James 1:24) Even your worst weeks are what create the nature of God in you. Once we have faith then we can perform good works (James 2:18).
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus wanted to adjust his audience’s thinking. He said, “You are the light of the world”. He had said He was the light of the world but now he is saying you are the light. He wants to turn the great “I AMs” into “You are”! (Matthew 5:16)
This transformation is a process which takes time.
Romans 12:2. We have 2 options:
- Be conformed to the world
- Be transformed by the renewing of our minds
Our change equals His glory
The earth is waiting for transformed people to be revealed (Romans 8:18). In the Lord ’s Prayer (Matthew 16:9) we “hallow” His Name. When we gather as the church we do that in worship. However there is another church service we attend called the ‘scattered church’. This is the church in the community, workplaces, connect groups etc. In this context we hallow God and bring him glory through our good works. These good works must reflect the nature of God otherwise his name is tarnished rather than glorfied. As Romans 2:24 describes in the early church the name of God was blasphemed because of the behaviour of the Jews.
We have all been made ambassadors of Christ once we received him. God has called us to such a high calling to reconcile God to people. It is not a calling we should take lightly. Every day we have the opportunity to consider how we can reflect God's nature in our community.
Something to talk about:
- Do you feel there are things we can do to help our Christian beliefs line up with our behaviour?
- Have you ever felt discouraged in the “getting good” process?
- Think practically about steps you could take in your community to be the ‘scattered church’ whether it’s buying a colleague a coffee to spark a conversation or offering to help with gardening for an elderly neighbour. Pray together for these opportunities.