A sermon on Romans 12 v.1 – 8, fist published in the Baptist Times on April 23rd 2010
With every new age come the pundits who make it their business to capture the ‘spirit of the age’. They’ve finished working over the noughties now, and will start their work on the teenies, or whatever they are to be called. The thing is, whatever the spirit of the age might be, we should not allow it to define us as Christians.
The reason we are defined by something else harks right back to the first stirrings of our spiritual lives. For Paul it harks back to a thunderclap encounter on the Damascus Road and a moment of revelation in a little house on Straight Street. For each of us the story may be slightly different. Just as the ‘therefore’ in v.1 is drawn from the previous verses in chapter 11, so the ‘why’ of our different outlook goes back to God’s intervention in our lives.
The how and the what, of course, may be rather more complex. God’s intervention in our lives may be reflected in a myriad of different choices about words, actions and plans. The jumbled up list of ministries in this chapter, where the obviously spiritual and the downright practical sit side by side reinforces this. Through it all we seek to ‘be transformed by the renewing of the mind’ (v.2), so that we might know his will for ourselves.
- On what basis does Paul say that we should regard each other equally?
- Can we ever be said to truly and unequivocally ‘know’ God’s will?
- J. B Phillips famously translated the phrase from v.2 as ‘not letting the world squeeze you into its mould’. Are there other idioms which might fit the bill today?
- Paul probably wrote these words in Antioch – a city associated with the veneration of the Jewish hero-martyrs who had died in the reign of Antiochus Epiphanies. What examples do you see today of ‘living sacrifice’ inside or outside the Christian church?
‘The “why” of your transformation may hark back to a transcendent moment of worship where heaven touched earth and you were wonderfully caught in the middle. It was a moment when God sounded a note and the echo in your soul told you that the note had been there all along although you did not know it.’