Behaving Like a Christian
The title sounds scary, but we are going to look at Romans 12, where Paul lines out for us what we as Christians should be doing and how we should be behaving.
"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" (Romans 12:1, NKJV).
Here in Romans we see the call to worship and a call to present ourselves as a sacrifice to God, so if you are not first surrendered to Christ, then none of the rest of this will mean anything to you.
"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 12:2, NKJV).
Here we see a call to live for Christ. We do not live any longer by this world's standards or rules; we now live for the One who came to save the world. This means if you are surrendered to God but living for the world, then you are not growing in your faith because you are living in disobedience to what God calls us to do.
"For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith" (Romans 12:3, NKJV).
I am sure I am not the only one who struggles with pride. Pride is sometimes the thing that kills our worship and surrender to God. Why? Because if we are not ready to let God in to work through us instead of through our plans then we are not going to get anywhere. That pride in our lives is what keeps us from doing what He has called us to.
"For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness" (Romans 12:4-8, NKJV).
Spiritual gifts. I love this verse. It does not only tell us about our spiritual gifts, but it shows us how they are meant to be used. God does not call us to live outside the world then leave us to serve Him even when it is hard. He gives us accountability and fellowship through the Church. The Body of Christ is where we have fellow believers to encourage us and help us when we fall. It is also our source of accountability for when we fail, the Body of Christ spurs us on to continue in our mission.
"Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,' says the Lord. Therefore 'If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head'" (Romans 12:9-10, 12-20, NKJV).
Now we get into Paul's list. It is a lengthy one, but overall we see a theme. Hope, peace, prayer, kindness, hospitality. This all sounds like your typical "be a good person" list, but then it gets hard. Bless those who persecute you. This statement is the literal opposite of what anyone wants to do when we face opposition.
We see after this that there is a time for things: Rejoice with those rejoicing, weep with those weeping. Basically, we need to be attentive to others. We are trying to spread the love of Christ and a turn or burn message to someone who is in mourning may not be the reason that someone hates church or Christ.
Lastly, we see a promise that when things do not go our way, that vengeance is the Lord's. Now when someone hurts you and prospers, that is the last thing you want to hear about. But, it is true that God is the ultimate Judge. We have no right to be mad at an unbeliever who does not know any better than to persecute our faith and even though it stinks, we need to let that persecution spark a fire in our heart to tell them the truth of the Gospel even more.
So in short, behaving like a Christian is hard, but we have a purpose and a goal and that is to bring others to Christ. We have an amazing God and an amazing opportunity to tell others about Him, too.
So why do we not?
What is it in this list that Paul lays out for us that we are not doing? Are we living in worship, sacrificing our world life to abide with God on a daily basis? Are we using our gifts to work in the Body of the believers in church? Are we strengthening and holding accountable our brothers and sisters in Christ? And lastly, are we letting God handle our hurt and loving our enemies regardless?
Because if we are to truly love our enemies or those who are against God, then we need to share God's love with them. So why are we not?