We are still snowed in from the 2014 Snow-pocalipse…. And the idea of being transformed; transfigured; metamorphosis is still fresh.
We CAN be changed from glory to glory; from grace to grace; morphing from one form to another; becoming something altogether new, which is a very exciting thought….
As, transformed believers, we follow God in faith and worship Him by sacrificing our lives, daily. We also now live by a new law of love (Romans 12:9-21); to loving our neighbors as ourselves (Romans 13:1-10), and livig pure lives because of the urgency of the gospel (Romans 13:11-14).
But how does this new law of love specifically apply to our current relationships with all the diversity?
In Romans 14, we are given guidance. God inspired Paul’s writing to a diverse congregation in cosmopolitan Rome. This faith community that was influenced by many ethnic, religious, and cultural pressures. The city already boasted of many pagan and patriotic holidays. At the same time, Jewish Christians brought religious holy days of their own into the early church, such as Yom Kippur, Passover, and the observance of the Sabbath. Moreover, Gentile Followers of Christ were beginning to worship on the Lord’s Day, the first day of the week, on which Jesus was resurrected. With cultural, religious, and state holidays to consider, there was much disagreement among the Believers. Jewish and Gentile Christians wondered how to unite their community while living and worshiping together, despite these differences.
God to the rescue….God gave wisdom to them and us, important and timely wisdom.
“Brothers and sisters, in view of all we have just shared about God’s compassion, I encourage you to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, dedicated to God and pleasing to him. This kind of worship is appropriate for you. Don’t become like the people of this world. Instead, change the way you think. Then you will always be able to determine what God really wants-what is good, pleasing, and perfect. Because of the kindness that God has shown me, I ask you not to think of yourselves more highly than you should. Instead, your thoughts should lead you to use good judgment based on what God has given each of you as believers. Our bodies have many parts, but these parts don’t all do the same thing. In the same way, even though we are many individuals, Christ makes us one body and individuals who are connected to each other. God in his kindness gave each of us different gifts. If your gift is speaking God’s word, make sure what you say agrees with the Christian faith. If your gift is serving, then devote yourself to serving. If it is teaching, devote yourself to teaching. If it is encouraging others, devote yourself to giving encouragement. If it is sharing, be generous. If it is leadership, lead enthusiastically. If it is helping people in need, help them cheerfully. Love sincerely. Hate evil. Hold on to what is good. Be devoted to each other like a loving family. Excel in showing respect for each other” (Romans 12: 1-10).
Relationships are transformed by Christ. This creates loving acceptance of other believers on the path to unity. The gospel was, after all, offered to the whole world. Look at Romans 14:7-9. In terms of freedom, we have a new life of faith!
We as Believers must understand that we do not make choices in isolation. From the beginning of our new life in Christ until death, every moment of every day is God’s moment.
We are responsible to make all life choices in light of our relationship with Him. Jesus Christ died and returned from death so that He would be Lord over all our days, including the choices and actions of those days. In imitation of Him, the old self is crucified Galatians 2:20. We may need to set down our own perspectives, personal desires, and preferences for the good of His Kingdom. There is freedom, but it is freedom from selfishness and freedom to serve others.
Romans 14:12 is very clear, it tells us we are all accountable to God, the supreme Judge. And because we are it is God’s place to judge. When we acknowledge the fact that there is only one Judge, we will realize that we no longer have any basis to judge one another. As an expert on Old Testament Law, Paul inspired by God quoted Isaiah 45:23 on this matter, reminding readers that we are all citizens kneeling before God in the new Kingdom. None of us is better or higher than any other and therefore in no position to judge. God has complete ownership of our entire lives; we have no rights, because we have laid our rights, privileges, and opinions at the foot of the cross. This paradigm shift gives an act of worship, a new perspective.
Christ, my God, God in flesh, help me to take my worship of you into the relationships you have given. Please transfigure my flesh, radiating your Shekinah glory which is light, love, mercy, and grace to those who most need it.