When I wrote the post “The unhypocritical church“, I did not plan for it to continue into a second part. However, as I have been meditating on Romans 12 for the last few days, there are a few more thoughts that I want to share.
Sunday morning, we gathered with the church like we do every week. After the formal part of our meeting concluded, people hung around talking for about an hour. At one point, my daughter and another girl her age stood by the door and, like good stewardesses, greeted those who left by saying, “Buh-bye. See you next week.” This was funny at first. Then I realized exactly what they were saying. They recognized that we would not see many of these people for seven days.
Sunday afternoon, as I published the post called “The unhypocritical church” and thought about the episode with my daughter and her friend, I realized that it would be impossible to carry out the teachings of Romans 12:9-21 if we only see one another once a week in a formal setting. Look at this list again:
- holding fast to good
- loving one another
- honoring one another
- serving the Lord fervently
- giving to needy
- being hospitable (loving strangers)
- living in harmony
- doing what is honorable
- living in peace with all
Sure, some of these we could probably do once a week, and pretend to have carried out Paul’s intention. But, can we have patience with one another if we only see each other once every seven days? Can we live in harmony with one another if we only see each other once every seven days? Similarly, we are to help one another live according to these descriptions. Can we help one another be hospitable toward strangers if we only see one another on Sunday?
This passage (Romans 12:9-21) is about community. Paul does not state, “Live as a community with your brothers and sisters in Christ”. However, he describes believers living together in such a way that they must recognize themselves as a Spirit-indwelled, Spirit-led community in order to see these descriptions carried out in their lives. There is no way to understand “church” as a once or twice a week event and have these characteristics. No, Paul is not describing an event, or a location, or an organization. Paul is describing a way-of-life for people who are following their Master together.
Among the church where God has placed me, I recognize these characteristics in many of my brothers and sisters. On Sunday, I heard that several people are spending their Labor Day Monday helping some friends work on their houses. I heard about other friends who are donating furniture and delivering it to someone that they do not know, but who is in need of furniture. Other friends are spending their day off by working on cars for their brothers and sisters. In activities such as these (and probably many others that I do not know about), the love of Christ is manifest and proclaimed both to believers and to unbelievers alike.
A community… a kingdom community, ruled by the King, looking out for one another, serving one another and the world, proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ, and warmly welcoming those who accept his grace and mercy. This is the kind of church that Paul is describing. This is the church of unypocritical love. This is how I want to live my life.