Christ Church, Mountain Top
John 21 (the risen Jesus asks for our love/worship)
Romans 11.33 – 12.21 (especially 12.1-2)
we begin a new series of messages exploring the language we are using to
describe discipleship here at Christ Church, language that is incorporated into
the new and expanded membership vows and covenant. You may have noticed the
tagline, “Friends. Purpose. Life.” in some of our graphics. Those themes
translate into three overlapping spheres for discipleship: Worship (Life),
Community (Friends), and Mission (Purpose). A copy of the membership vows,
including the new questions and description, will be handed out to everyone as
There is so much we could talk about – and we are only taking one Sunday with
this dimension of our theme! We could talk about the power of praise to shape the world, to accomplish victory, to bring
the new age of resurrection to bear on the old age of death. I love the story
of King Jehoshaphat, who puts the choir at the front of the army as Judah heads
off to battle, and when they arrive at the battleground, their enemies have
killed each other (2 Chronicles 20). We could talk about the imperative of gathering as the
Christian community (which overlaps with next week’s theme). “I can worship
anywhere, alone in the woods”. Good, but that is not adequate for our souls:
“Do not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing” (Hebrews
10.25). We could talk about the so-called “worship
wars”, which so often boil down to what constitutes “good music” rather
than “bad music”, and end up focused on everything except what matters to the mission
of Jesus and the formation of souls.
today we are going to talk about worship as a way of life, with a focus on the
first two verses of Romans 12. Some context: In Romans, Paul has been
describing the story of salvation, how Jews and Gentiles together are united in
a new people of God, and how Jesus in his death and resurrection inaugurates
God’s new age – the resurrection age – in the midst of the old one (Wright).
Chapter 11 closes with worship: “O the depth of the riches and wisdom and
knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his
ways! … For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the
glory forever. Amen” (11.33-36).
chapter 12 opens with worship:
12:1-2 I appeal to you therefore,
brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living
sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this
world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may
discern what is the will of God– what is good and acceptable and perfect.
(worship, civil service, work of the people)
(logical, rational, spiritual – the “worship worthy of thinking beings”,
Jerusalem Bible [Wright])
problem with living sacrifices is that they want to crawl off the altar” (Dick
you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior …
promise to serve him as your Lord?
is the path to “self-actualization”, and to pleasing God (Paul). Jesus: “Take
up your cross, deny yourself, and follow me” (Matthew 16.24). So often today,
we think the path to self-actualization is through pleasure,
relationships-family, or work-success. Over and over, in practical experience,
these paths fall through. Only a life given over completely to Jesus is, in
Jesus’ words, “life to the full” (John 10.10, NIV)
all the ambiguities and perplexities of Christian moral life, there is such a
thing as knowing and doing God’s will, and we are commanded to pursue it”
what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12.2)
self), Renewed Mind. Prayer & Scripture
139:13-14 you knit me together in my
mother’s womb. 14 I praise
you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I
know very well.
love be genuine…. Love one another with mutual affection” (Ro 12.9-10).
Practical dimensions in the Christian community – humility, peace, teamwork,
generosity, hospitality …
the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are
his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! … For from him and through him and
to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen” (11.33-36).
T. Wright. 2002. Romans in The New
Interpreter’s Bible, Vol X. Nashville: Abingdon Press.