Text: Romans 12:9-21
For love to be genuine
To live in harmony with one another
YESTERDAY WE LEARNED THAT Christian discipleship is relational, intentional, developmental.
+The disciple of Jesus is called to life with Jesus and into a particular community.
+The disciple of Jesus is called practice certain habits.
+The disciple of Jesus lives in that particular community and practices those certain habits over time.
Today, let’s talk about relationships.
Many people insist that they can be Christians without participating in the community that gathers around Jesus. In a sense, this is understandable: it often seems that the single biggest obstacle to the Christian life is other Christians!
Yet the entire trajectory of Jesus’ ministry is around community. John reports in his gospel that the Word, in becoming flesh, entered into a community—and a specific one at that. We see in the gospels that Jesus calls and sends disciples by pairs (Luke 10 is an example); the single biggest complaint about him is that he makes companions of those whom the good and great would avoid; the horror of the Crucifixion is partly because Jesus experiences the agony of being alone and apart, cast out from human community and denied the intimacy of the Father. After the Resurrection, the first thing that Jesus does is reassemble, reunite and reinvigorate his fractured band of disciples.
Please notice that Paul’s letter, as it turns from God-talk to God-practice, assumes that the primary place where the Roman Christians are working on the habits of the Kingdom is in the Church, in the community, among people from all walks of life who were brothers and sisters within the church, no matter what the world outside said about them. From that community, Jesus followers moved out into the Roman world and became renowned for their simple, kindly, and generous behavior, so much so that one Roman ruler wrote exasperatedly that the Christians, made up of the dregs of society, far outshone the wise and well to do in virtue and civic effort! As the Roman Empire crumbled, followers of Jesus, well-versed in living in community, rebuilt and maintained communities across the ancient world, and their achievement blesses us even to this day.
So, if you wish to grow as a disciple, do a relationship check. Invite a brother or sister to practice a disciple’s habit, such as prayer, with you. Extend that community and invite someone new from your neighborhood. Let blessing flow.
May your day be grace-filled ~ Pr. Dave Brooks
--Image from The Chosen, publicity still, "Jesus and his disciples,"