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A healthy church

Romans 12v1-8

31st May 2019

We've been thinking a lot about what the first 8 verses of Romans chapter 12 say to a Christian:

Romans 12v1-8
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith; if it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

This has implications for church as well as for individuals.

Do you live in a church where everybody lives in accordance with these words? Can you imagine such a church?

Imagine a church where every member is humble, faithful, godly, kind and gentle. Imagine a safe church, a church where everybody who comes knows they're welcome, knows they're safe there. Imagine being able to say to somebody you meet at the bus stop, "If you come to my church, we will not hurt you, we will not criticise you, we will not ostracise you. We will love you, we will bear with your imperfections and hope that you can bear with ours. We will deal with your sin and hope you can deal with ours". A church should be the safest place on earth.

Imagine a church where nobody ever speaks negatively about others, a church that really believes:

1 Peter3v8-12
Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For,
“Whoever would love life and see good days
must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech.
He must turn from evil and do good;
he must seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

My own church will never have the most eloquent preachers, or the best musicians, or the biggest auditorium, but we can be loving, accepting, gentle, kind and patient. And so can your church. And if all the members of a church live like that, if the church is healthy and safe, then God can do great things there.

This is what church can be when we all lay our life down before God as living sacrifices. This is a church that's being transformed by the renewing of our minds. It's a church that's becoming gentle as Jesus is gentle, kind as Jesus is kind, forgiving as Jesus is forgiving, welcoming others as Jesus welcomes us.

I hope your church will never stop preaching the truth. I hope your church will preach the Scripture, all the Scripture and nothing but the Scripture. But along with the teaching that sin really is sin and righteousness really is righteousness, I hope your church and mine will truly love sinners, not just because we're sinners too - although we are - but because Jesus loves sinners.

Even when he was on this earth, Jesus got an awful lot of earache from religious people - "Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?" (Mark 2v16). Aren't you glad that Jesus loves sinners? Because I wouldn't be in church at all - and neither would you - if He didn't.

Let's all be transformed by the renewing of our minds to never criticise, never ostracise, always forgive, always bear with each other's failings, and serve one another with all our passion, for Jesus's sake and for each other's sake, because the body of Christ is the most important group of people on the earth, and it can only function properly when it's healthy. We alone can help others to find God and experience His life-transforming power, if we will become Christ-like people in Christ-like churches.

Healthy things grow.

We all want to live in a healthy church. Be part of the move towards your church being healthy. Love the Lord with all your heart. Love your neighbour as yourself. Forgive those who sin against you. And keep loving. Pray that others will see how you're living, and will want to live that way too. Help your church to become what God wants it to become.