Blogging Towards Sunday, July 31, 2011
Today’s scripture, suggested by Sharon Nelson, is the climactic portion of Paul’s theological explanation in the letter to the church in Ancient Rome. Over the previous chapters, Paul has explained the tension between sin and brokenness and grace and reconicilation. He’s talked of the paradox that God in Christ saves not just the Jew but also the Gentile. Now he arrives at the point in his teaching when he moves from theology to ethics. How do we live a life in community as diverse and different followers of Jesus?
The question is as pertinent today in the Oakland of 2011 as it was in Ancient Rome 2,000 years ago. If we live life as followers of Jesus our lives will look different than the values heralded by the culture in which we live. Following Jesus, picking up our cross, is a counter-cultural act. It’s counter our culture because we don’t view ourselves as the center of the universe. It’s an inversion of the Western tradition sof “God helps those who help themselves;” “He who dies with the most toys wins;” and “if it doesn’t hurt it can’t be wrong.” Yet it doesn’t seem to be how we’re seen by the world. More often than naught, at least in the USA, Christians are currently seen as members of a sub-group that belongs to a particular political party, eschews a rejection of science, and a stereotyped world-view. And yet Paul is talking about the diversity of gifts that God gives to different people who together accomplish the will of God which transforms both Jesus Followers and the World as we know it.
· What does it mean to not conform to the world? Does that mean to go against the world? Or something else?
· How is the Church universal – and our church her on College Ave – conformed to the world? How can it be transformed?
· How have you been transformed by Christ? How do you long to be transformed?
· How do you imagine the will of God? Can we know it in life? Can we do it? What do the words of Paul imply? What might the will of God be for our church community here at College Avenue?
· Someone once described our church as a nice little dysfunctional community. How is that statement an affirmation of what Paul says in Romans 12? How is it an invitation for us to change, a challenge to overcome?