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Building a Kingdom Kulture, Part 2 (Romans 12:2)

February 15, 2015

Romans 12:2

Building a Kingdom Kulture

 

READ Romans 12:1-2

 

Intro:  We are on a journey together to discover what it means to build a Kingdom Kulture.  It is more than coming to church and taking care of church business.  It is about living in such a way, every day, so that the Kingdom of God is revealed to the world we live in.  It is about living as disciples of Jesus Christ at all times and in all places. 

 

The Apostle Paul gives us snapshots of what a Kingdom Kulture will look like in the letters he wrote to the churches.  We are looking specifically at Romans 12 over the next few weeks to try to get our minds and hearts set on what building and living out the Kingdom of God will look like for us as individuals and as a whole.

 

In verse one, Paul calls the church to completely surrender itself to God.  Because of the great mercy God has shown us by inviting us into salvation, we are to offer our whole bodies to him.  This is the essence of what it means to worship.  Worship is not just singing or praying or listening to a sermon.  Worship is bringing our whole selves to those activities and working at making them holy and pleasing to God.  It’s the difference between showing up and going through the motions and investing in what we’re doing.

 

In verse one Paul calls us into an action toward God.  In verse two he calls us to an action away from what we’ve been.  We must leave our old way in order to live into the new way of being.  Let’s look at Romans 12:2

 

The instruction: Do not conform to the pattern of this world,

           

What is the “pattern of this world”?  What do you see happening in the news? Shootings, wars, immorality publicized and normalized.  What is the pattern of this world?  To go it’s own way with no reverence for God or respect for one’s neighbors.  To quote Isaiah 53:6 (a),

We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; . . .

The world has gone astray.  Those who have not chosen to seek God, have chosen another way and any other way isn’t want God designed or desires. 

 

I think it is necessary for us and I know it is necessary for me to daily examine whose pattern I am following.  To ask:  “Am I feeding into or off of the things of this world?”  “How attached am I to my TV Shows?”  “How attached am I to FB?”  “How attached am I to my perceived rights and privileges?”  “Am I more interested in entertaining myself than I am surrendering myself to the will of God?”  If I were really going to surrender my body as a living sacrifice to God – holy and pleasing to him – what would I need to give up?

           

What does it mean to “conform” to the pattern of this world?

When confronted with a particular area of life that may conform to the world, how often is our answer, “Well, I don’t personally have a problem with that, so I think I can keep doing it.”  Rather than listening and asking ourselves the question, “In light of God calling me not to conform to this world, what sort of hold does this area have over my life?”  I love police dramas.  I began watching a British one because it helped get me on the treadmill.  It was about a serial killer in Ireland.  I didn’t love it, but like a bad accident, I could quit watching until I realized it was a lot like a movie I knew I wouldn’t go see because of it’s content.  My inner voice argued, “But I’m mature.  I can watch this.  What will it hurt?”  But the thing was it did hurt.  I felt uncomfortable.  I didn’t like what the characters did to one another.  There was no joy.  So I ditched it the next day and listened to Rend Collective instead – turned out I walked faster and had a lot more joy in my heart and praiseworthy thoughts of God in my head when I was finished.  “Be careful little eyes what you see.”

 

There are only two ways to live. We either seek God and pursue his will for our lives or we don’t.  There’s not middle of the road.  To not deliberately seek to please God is to choose to walk away from him.  We know we are conforming to this world when we catch ourselves doing and accepting what everyone is doing. 

Do you ever recall saying to your parents, “I should get to do it because everyone else is doing it!” And the reply, “If everyone else jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you?”  If you approach God with that same declaration over personal rights his response might bluntly be, “Yes, and everyone else is spending eternity apart from me where the sun don’t shine.  Would you like to join them?”

 

Jesus said in Matt. 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Or God and any other thing.  If you’re being honest, where does your loyalty lie?  Is it with your passions and desires and what everyone else is doing, or is your life and all your ways committed to what God wants and desires to do in your life?  Let me reassure you, that like a good parent, God allows us to test him, but we still have to deal with the consequences of our actions.

 

So the instruction Paul gives to the church in how to live into a Kingdom Kulture is not to be conformed to the pattern of the world.  People of the kingdom act distinctively different than those who have not yet become part of the kingdom.  We follow a different set of rules.  But surrounded by the world, by peer pressure, by the morality of others, how do we have the strength to stand against the popular stance on everything?  The next phrase tells us how.

 

but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

What does transformation look like? The meaning is, do not cherish a spirit. devoted to the world, following its vain fashions and pleasures, but cultivate a spirit attached to God, and his kingdom and cause. (Barnes Notes on The Bible)

Transformation by the renewing of our minds is deliberate.  We have to change our focus.

           

How do we renew our minds?  The example I gave earlier about what I was watching on the treadmill and exchanged for praise music?  That was an example of “cultivating a spirit attached to God, and his kingdom and cause”.  It was a deliberate choice to get something worldly out of my mind and put something leading to God in it’s place.  We have choices like that to make every single day.  The process of the transformation of the mind is a battle fought against the enemy of God continually.  And the enemy of God knows what you hold precious in your heart and will attack you there.

It was great to hear those testimonies last week:  Testimonies of young men who have met Christ in a new way and are choosing to be transformed.  People who grow up in the church, live a basically “good life”, don’t deal with drugs or alcoholism, or any of the other things we heard mentioned, can be lulled into thinking that because they’ve always been “good” they don’t need to grow.  I have to tell you, that is a lie from the father of lies, and if you have believed it, the enemy of God has you right where he wants you.  If you are here today, there is still another step you can take towards holiness.  There is still transforming work to be done in your life.  None of us have arrived, not even the most saintly of us.  But if the enemy of God can convince us that we’re good enough just where we are, he wins.  That’s really scary to me. 

 

If we are to build a Kingdom Kulture, we need to be constantly bringing our lives before God and asking him to renew our thoughts and to transform us.

 

What will be the result of this transformation: Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

           

A transformed mind knows God’s will and can align discernment and decisions with God’s desire.  This is not something that can happen casually.  First, it requires a commitment to seek God’s will and pursue it and second, it requires putting ourselves under the authority of Scripture and allowing the Word of God to guide us and change us. And we need to know God’s will because it is God’s will we are called to live by in order to be holy and blameless before God!           

 

The world has warped the will of God and many times we have allowed the news and special interest groups to inform us of what the Word of God says.  We buy it.  We preach it, without ever opening the Word of God ourselves and studying it.  Transformation cannot fully take place if we are not willing to read and understand God’s word regularly.

 

Do you ever wish you knew what decision to make?  The more our minds are transformed, the easier it is to make decisions.  The more we come to think like God, the easier it is to live in accordance with his will – his good, pleasing and perfect will.  And when we come to live in that place, the peace of mind that is awarded us is a gift worth receiving.

 

Concl. So, Christian brothers and sisters, those who have been called by God and set apart for his purpose: where is your mind?  In what areas of life are you conforming to the patterns of this world?  What area of your life needs to be transformed by the renewing of your mind?

 

Lent begins this week.  40 days set aside by the church for the purpose of transformation.  Lent is the season of repentance and turning.  I invite you to use this time to work on surrendering to God what God calls you to surrender.  Forget about chocolate.  Let’s get real.  In what area of life does your mind need to be transformed so that your thoughts and actions line up with God’s will?

 

God has called us all to build his kingdom here.  It begins with you and it begins with me as we cultivate the character of the kingdom in our own lives.  Will you commit to begin during this season of Lent?  Amen.