Taking Romans Personally

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” – Romans 12.1-2

Humility Quote C. S. LewisPaul connects Romans 12 (“therefore”) to the mountain of previous teaching from Romans 1-11. Before he presents what we should do, Paul deals with great theological truths about what God has already done and how we stand in relation to Him because of our faith in Jesus Christ.

Beyond being merely an intellectual exercise, the renewing of our minds includes actually obeying God–doing that which is good and right–which Paul immediately outlines for us in Romans 12.3-15.7. Here’s a quick breakdown of what is covered:

  1. Don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought; evaluate yourself properly (12.3-8)
  2. Love genuinely (12.9-13)
  3. Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep (12.14-21)
  4. Subject yourself to the government (13.1-7)
  5. Love your neighbor as yourself (13.8-10)
  6. Walk properly, as in the daytime (13.11-14)
  7. Welcome the weak in faith (14.1-15.7)

Just about all of this has to do with submitting ourselves to others. How do we actually present our lives as living sacrifices to God and renew our minds? We follow Christ’s footsteps (see 13.14; 15.1-13) by assuming the lowest place, subjecting ourselves to every ordinance of God, submitting to one another in love, yielding to our enemies, and welcoming brethren with whom we don’t see eye to eye.

Humility Quote by D. A. CarsonIn a conversation last night with a friend, something hit me. He asked (in light of the “bearing with the weak in faith” from Romans 14) how we decide who is stronger and who is weaker?

“How can you know who is the weak one?” he asked.

“Whoever the other guy is, that’s the weak one,” I jokingly replied.

But silliness aside, I’m pretty sure that is not the question God would have us ask, because if we use Romans 14 to start a big row over who is weak and who is strong, does that not tend to divide rather than unify, as Paul insisted upon?

As I read Romans 12-15, God speaks to me, personally. I know He didn’t write Romans directly to me, but I should read it as a message from God to me. In other words, I don’t read it to figure out how you ought to change in your actions towards me; rather I read to discover how I might repent and change in my actions towards you. I can only worry about and change myself, and God has only given me control over one person on this planet!

FlowerIf every Christian read the Bible this way, wouldn’t we make gigantic strides towards unity? If every husband only worried about being the right kind of husband and didn’t worry about forcing his wife to be the right kind of wife…if every wife only worried about respecting her husband properly…if every brother only worried about how he was treating his fellow siblings and not about what they did to him or didn’t do for him…how powerful would that be?!

Is that how you read God’s word?

“If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” (Romans 12.18)

The World’s Biggest Problem

CapitalismYesterday we discussed Bill Gates’ perspective on the world’s greatest problem, which is basically a shortage of clean energy.

Before we start tossing around the liberal and conservative labels, let’s think quickly to the perspectives of the leading “conservative” advocates of our day. From time to time I listen to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, and talk show hosts of that ilk, and after listening to them for a while I get the same empty feeling as when I listen to Bill Gates or the Democrat solutions. They miss the real problem as well.

For example, Rush Limbaugh said:

“The world’s biggest problem is the unequal distribution of capitalism. If there were capitalism everywhere, you wouldn’t have food shortages.”

If you asked these men to list our country’s biggest problems, do you believe they would include a lack of submission to God? To be fair, it might make the list for some, but I am fairly certain none would place that as this country’s primary issue. Glenn Beck? He might.

Bible ReadingSatan has drilled deep into our heads and successfully obscured the real problem! The real problem is not clean energy vs. coal and oil. It’s not racism. It’s not conservatism. It’s not liberalism. It’s not global warming or terrorism. It’s not capitalism or (gasp!) socialism. And ABSOLUTELY NO government will (or can) solve our real problems! People are not the solution; we make the mess.

Don’t let all the political yammering and yapping obscure what is real, that only God can turn things around, and He requires people to submit to Him and His ways. Repentance is the key.

How are poverty-stricken people really taken care of? Those who are more wealthy open their hearts and help them. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble… (James 1.27). Command those who are rich…not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God…Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share… (1 Timothy 6.17-18).

How is racism defeated? God pricks our hearts to understand all men are, indeed, created equal in His sight. God has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on the all the face of the earth…we are the offspring of God (Acts 17.26, 29).

As soon as we take God and His word out of the picture, we have no anchor for the soul. Men do what they will and what they want. Chaos reigns.

The end of the matter, when all has been considered is this: to fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man (Ecclesiastes 12.13).