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Romans 12:1-21 (1-3) Building a Kingdom Kulture

February 1, 2015

Romans 12:1-21 (1-3)

Building a Kingdom Kulture

 

Children’s Sermon:  Today we are going to have a three-legged race.  So everyone stand up.  (Tell people where to stand by themselves and tell them to go!)  Have them tell why they can’t do a three-legged race by themselves.  So what needs to happen for us to have a three-legged race? 

 

So in a three-legged race we have to stand next to the person we are trying to win with?  And we have to work together?  What if one of the people gets discouraged and wants to quit?  We have to encourage them to hang in there and do their best? 

 

Do you know that a three-legged race reminds me of how we are to live with our friends who know Christ?  We are supposed to walk with each other and encourage each other all the time.  Let’s pray that we can do that and then I want to give you special instructions to get back to your seat.  (Have them return in pairs.)

 

Intro:

We heard the first part of this chapter at the beginning of worship and have now heard the second.  We will be spending some quality time with these verses over the next weeks and I want to begin by reading the first verse again.

 

Re-Read Romans 12:1

 

This section of Paul’s letter to the Romans begins with the word “Therefore”.  When learning to do inductive Bible Study I was taught that whenever one came across the word “therefore”, one needed to ask, “What is the “therefore” there for?”  Paul has been on about the grace and mercy shown to the Gentiles that God should extend the invitation of salvation to them.  Paul has been telling the Roman church that as Gentiles, they need to be thankful for their inclusion into salvation and forgiveness.  This is the context that Romans 12 is written into.

It is where the focus of God’s people is called to be: “in view of God’s mercy”. 

 

In writing this, (or any of his letters) Paul is describing the culture of the Kingdom of God.  In the New Testament writings we learn how to be the church - how to create and live out a Kingdom Culture.  This is something that the church has lost sight of over the years.  The church has tried to become more like the world. We have tried to fit in rather than to be in the world as distinct salt and light as Jesus called us to be.  Remember that the word “Ecclesia”, which is translated as “church” means to be called from the world and to God.  We aren’t supposed to look just like the world.  We aren’t supposed to act like everyone else.  We are set apart so that we can show the world what God looks like.  To show the world how God desires to engage the world and bring it to redemption.  How do we do that?  By focusing our attention on deliberately living learning about and living into this Kingdom Kulture, part of which is to make our bodies living sacrifices.

 

What is culture?

from Merriam Webster, on-line

: the beliefs, customs, arts, etc., of a particular society, group, place, or time

: a particular society that has its own beliefs, ways of life, art, etc.

: a way of thinking, behaving, or working that exists in a place or organization (such as a business)

the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization

 

Considering that definition of culture, what might we identify as our current church culture?   We gather to worship at a particular time on a particular day.  That’s part of our culture.  We have “rules” or polity and by-laws by which we govern ourselves and that is part of our culture.  We have creeds that we say together that profess what we believe and that is part of our culture.  In this particular gathering we have a liturgy or worship routine that we most often abide by and that is part of our culture.  We have music that is particular to our church culture.  Have you ever heard Froggy 104 play “All Hail The Power of Jesus Name” with organ accompaniment?

 

Those are all things that happen within our shared life when we come together.  But Kingdom Kulture is not just what happens in here, it is about how we govern and live our lives out there – in the world.  Quoting from the dictionary definition it is: the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization

 

People should be able to identify us as belonging to Christ out there in the world.  Not because we wear Christian T-shirts or have a fish sticker on our car, or say “Bless you” as we depart.  People should be able to identify us as Christians because of all the words that come out of our mouths and all the actions we take during the day, and through all the interactions we have with them.  Kingdom Kulture is not about acting one way in church or in a churchy situation and another at the basketball game.  Living out a Kingdom Kulture is about living out our discipleship, our relationship with Jesus Christ and allowing it to impact all that we are and all that we do.  We allow Jesus to lead and we willingly follow, taking all the risks and receiving all the courage that our leader, Christ, the Head of the Church, provides.

 

We’re going to spend some time looking at what it means to be the church through this idea of developing a Kingdom Kulture and we’re going to start with Romans 12.  We will go slowly so that what we teach we can have time to practice and become disciplined at. 

 

As we begin, I’d like to pray:  Father God, you gave your Son, Jesus Christ to redeem us and to lead us.  You have made him King and Head of your church.  As we claim to be your people, we must also claim our allegiance to follow Christ where he leads.

Lord Jesus Christ, we acknowledge you as Head of THIS church.  It all belongs to you.  We all belong to you and we seek to serve you.  We seek to live our lives in such a way that you are made attractive to the world we live in so that others will want to seek you too.

Holy Spirit, without you in our midst and in our lives we will accomplish nothing.  We are desperate for you presence in this place and in each of our lives.  Reveal to us our gifts and our weaknesses and show us how to grow into the people Christ is calling us to be.  Amen.

 

We’re going to stay right with this first verse today because Paul packed a wallop in this long sentence.  I hope you’ll keep your Bible open to it and look at the words with me.

 

Therefore, - We’ve already talked about this word and what it is pertaining to and in a bit we’ll look specifically back at a related passage Paul had in mind.

 

I urge you, - I wanted to understand what Paul meant by the word “urge”.  The word can be translated as encourage, or exhort, but the literal meaning of the Greek word used here is: “I am beside calling”  Picture if you would, a three-legged race.  The encouragement to run, to win, to finish, comes not from somewhere behind or ahead, but from right beside.  Paul is urging the church by standing beside them and calling them to action.  In a Kingdom culture, this is the position we each need to see ourselves in with one another as we strive to journey in faith.  Who are you urging to stay the course and pursue God’s will?

 

brothers and sisters, - Paul is calling the church at Rome his brothers and sisters.  Family.  And that is what we are.  Kingdom culture is a family of brothers and sisters in Christ all running beside one another.  Is there anyone in this house that you don’t consider a brother or sister?  That’s something that needs to be set right in your heart and/or in person before you leave today.

 

in view of God’s mercy, - Why are we doing these things?  Because we remember God’s mercy.  How appropriate that set before us today is the Lord’s Supper, through which we are reminded of the cost of God’s mercy to us, the death of Jesus his Son.  I have a tendency to judge others harshly.  I inherited it from my Baptist days.  This is a call to me to see everyone through the view of God’s mercy, remembering first that his mercy extends to even a judgmental person like me, who sometimes walks around with a log in her own eye.  How are you at viewing God’s mercy?  We cannot cultivate a Kingdom culture without the mercy of God in view.

 

to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, - Finally, this is the action Paul has come alongside the brothers and sisters to encourage them to take.  Later in the day, you may want to look up Romans 6:11-14.  There Paul talks about not offering our bodies to sin.  Every moment of the day we are making ourselves available to either God or God’s enemy.  The call on our lives through God’s mercy is that we continually make ourselves available to him – as a living sacrifice – ready and pleasing to God for his purposes.  In a Kingdom culture, lives are willingly surrendered to God for his purpose and pleasure.  Who are you surrendered to right now?

 

holy and pleasing to God – There is a unique quality to our living sacrifice of ourselves.  We bring ourselves with every intention of pleasing God, of turning everything over to him, setting ourselves apart for the carrying out of His will and His pleasure.  In a Kingdom culture the first goal of the people is to be holy and pleasing to God.  In order for that to happen, I imagine we need to confess our sins and start over on a regular basis. 

 

 

 

And finally we discover that by living this way—this is your true and proper worship. It is so far beyond showing up and going through motions.  To be truly grateful to God for the sacrifice of His own Son so that we could be made holy and forgiven, we give our bodies to God and allow God to use us as he will.  In a Kingdom culture there is more laying down of personal rights than there is fighting for them.

 

Jesus gave us the example as he surrendered his own body to God as the ultimate sacrifice.  His life given for our deaths.  Christ’s body broken so that our brokenness and sin might be mended and set right.  Today as we gather around the table as brothers and sisters seeking to please God, I pray that we would each think through our relationship to God based on what we’ve heard in Romans 12:1. 

 

If we are not invested in living genuinely into a true Kingdom Culture we will be an irrelevant church in a small town in northeast Pennsylvania.  I don’t think that is what God has called us to be.  I believe we are meant to be a missional outpost for the Kingdom and that God desires to use each of us to make His greatness known throughout the earth.  Are you in?

 

TO THE TABLE.