the weblog of Alan Knox

The unhypocritical church – Part 3

Posted by on Sep 4, 2007 in community, hospitality, love, scripture, service, spirit/holy spirit | 8 comments

I think this will be my last post on Romans 12:9-21 for now. As a reminder, this is what Paul writes:

Let love be genuine (unhypocritical). Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be conceited. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:9-21 ESV)

Once again, notice how the genuine (unhypocritical) love of Spirit-indwelled, Spirit-led believers is described:

  • holding fast to good
  • loving one another
  • honoring one another
  • serving the Lord fervently
  • rejoicing
  • patient
  • praying
  • giving to needy believers
  • being hospitable (loving strangers)
  • blessing
  • living in harmony
  • humble
  • doing what is honorable
  • living in peace with all

This is how the church of God should live. This description should characterize each believer and each group of beleivers.

Over the last few days, I have been asking myself which of these characteristics are evident in my life and which characteristics are absent. I can look back over the last few years and see where God has grown me and changed me. But, I can also see where I am not living as God intends. Specifically, God is still teaching me how to show hospitality (that is, love for strangers as opposed to love for those who I already know and love) and how to give to those who are in need. Perhaps, most of all, this is showing me areas in my life where I am not submitting to the presence of God.

As Joel pointed out in a recent post, we must begin with a proper understanind of who we are in Christ. I would also add that we should also recognize the awesome power and presence of the Holy Spirit who indwells us and changes us from the inside out.

Beginning with this understanding, I am going to ask you the same question that I have been asking myself: Meditating on the description of the unhypocritical (genuine) love of Romans 12:9-21, where is God still working in your life? In what ways are you not submitting to God’s presence in your life?


8 Comments

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  1. 9-4-2007

    I keep thinking that one of these days I’ll get caught up to the point to where I can read and comment on others’ blogs again. I was just recently reading Romans again and was just amazed how all of it works up to Romans 8 and then Romans 12-16 about unity and living in peace with one another. Relationship. Relationship. Relationship. Any theology, a study of God, leads one to the Truth that God is all about relationship – restoring them and reconciling them. It seems that a true group of believers would do everything possible to promote healthy, loving relationships.

  2. 9-4-2007

    Alan,

    I definitely haven’t attained any of these, but the one He is working on in me the most would be patience. In the past I’ve gone up one step and He would pull me back down two. I’ve built a lot of houses on the sand because I didn’t wait for Him to guide me. Zeal, unguided, can be dangerous, costly, and a waste of time.

    Jeff

  3. 9-4-2007

    Alan,

    I know you give all glory to our Lord, but you are His instrument, so, thank you again for a series of great posts.

    Isn’t it amazing how we can claim to be born again, yet continue to read Romans and others as if He was only speaking to those to whom the epistles are addressed?

    Most evangelical statements of faith, to which we subscribe, clearly indicate that we are adamant about the Scriptures being God’s word to we, who claim to be His.

    We still read the Scriptures, as we do this Epistle about which you have written, as if the words only applied to a long gone congregation of people in Rome, with no application to ourselves.

    Whilst ever we live, whenever we read the Scriptures, we must be aware that there is a battle for our minds, a battle which takes effort and focus.

    Far too much of the “devotional” reading to which we are encouraged causes cursory reading to fulfill a “duty”.

    May the Lord bless your diligence.

  4. 9-4-2007

    Bryan,

    Relationship… Yes, that seems to be key. Relationship with God that demonstrates itself in relationships with other people. If there is a break in one (God/others) it indicates a break in the other as well.

    Jeff,

    Patience… wow. That’s a big one. Thank you for sharing that with us.

    Aussie John,

    Thank you for the encouragement. To me, “devotion” includes submission and obedience. I pray that they will always go together – with the enabling of the Spirit.

    -Alan

  5. 9-4-2007

    After coming back from a weekend reading Tozer, Eugene Peterson, and Dallas Willard, I come back to blogland and find your post. God’s speaking.

    It seems that people have been identifying this kind of stuff that’s wrong with the church for quite some time.

    I think that part of the problem is this: There are very, very, very many Christians out there who are like this. There are many that I know. I even attend church with quite a few.

    But this kind of life doesn’t get much press time. I mean, who wants to read about someone living that kind of life? No glamour.

  6. 9-4-2007

    David,

    The people who live this kind of life indwelled and empowered by the Spirit are my heros. I’ve written a post about a few of them that I hope to publish tomorrow night. I’ve included part of your comment in that post.

    -Alan

  7. 9-4-2007

    I still have so much growing to do, especially when it comes to relationships. This post really hit home right now. Thank you.

    I really stink, but I am glad we have God to help us not stink so bad. :)

    I’m gonna go crack open Romans and pray that God will continue to humble me, discipline me and reveal to me the areas that need to be “de-stunk.”

  8. 9-4-2007

    Revolutionary1,

    Wow… thank you. This is what your comment reminded me of:

    But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ [Jesus said,] I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted. (Luke 18:13-14 ESV)

    Thank you for demonstrating this kind of humility. May it be contagious.

    -Alan