Worship by Being the Church

Romans 12:3-8
I often tell my folks at Dulin’s Grove not to go to church, but to be the church. In fact, it isn’t possible to go to church because church isn’t a destination, but a group of people. That’s why on Sunday mornings I try not to say, “Welcome to Dulin’s Grove, ” but “Welcome, Dulin’s Grove.” It may seem like semantics; but the distinction is important.

You might notice that our church website is full of pictures of our people, rather than picture of our building. Our site also has a Dulin’s Grove Twitter feed (look to the right of your screen). Occasionally a post may not be “church appropriate;” but they are the Tweets of our church and, therefore, they represent Dulin’s Grove accurately to anyone visiting the site.

I bring this up now because today we receive instruction that will help us be the church. But first, we need to reconnect to the preceding passage.

Connecting to Romans 12:1-2
A brief summary: In light of the sovereign mercies of God as displayed in his saving work among individuals and people groups, the only response that makes sense for the Christian is to give his or her body as a living sacrifice. This is worship. But there is something working against us: the conforming influence of the world. The way to counteract this conforming influence is to be transformed. The way to be transformed is by the renewing of your mind. The way to have your mind renewed is to apply it to testing and examining the will of God in your specific situations. Doing so results in concrete, practical actions of bodily self-sacrifice.

Now, read Romans 12:1. Did you notice how Paul messed up his grammatical tenses in verse 1? He says to present your bodies (plural) as a living sacrifice (singular). Is his just a translation issue? Or is it the plural bodily sacrifices of the Christians that becomes the singular sacrifice called the church?

Related:  Romans 8:12-13

It seems the first step in understanding your spiritual worship is to understand who you are in relation to the church.

Simple Instructions
  1. What not to do: For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think…
  2. What to do: …but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

A serious challenge we face in being the church is that we think too highly of ourselves. What’s the alternative? Thinking more lowly of ourselves? No, thinking more accurately of ourselves.

A Sober Assessment of Ourselves
Paul goes on to clarify who we are as individuals in relation to the church: For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

You are a member of the church, like an arm is a member of a body. This means we are united in Christ and dependent upon one another.

I have seasonal allergies. When my sinuses malfunction, even though they are small and unseen, they effect the rest of my body. My eyes and brain don’t operate like they should. It makes me want to lay my whole body down until my sinuses feel better. Similarly, though you may be a small and even unseen member of your church, when you malfunction, the entire church is effected.

Perhaps you are unmoved by this. You need to go back and think through what God has done in Jesus.
If  you are moved by this. You need to act. We’ve covered a lot of theology (what to think). Now we’re covering practice (what to do). This is practical, concrete and real.
In what ways have you been thinking too highly of yourself to serve as a part of the BOC according to your gifts? What are your gifts? How will you use them? What’s your first step? Read the list of gifts in verses 6-8 to help you think about how God has gifted you to work as part of the body.

Based on all God has done in Jesus, offer your bodies (via your gifts) as one, united, living sacrifice: the church: the body of Jesus Christ.

Discussion Starters

  1. How is everyone doing? Share your highs and lows, especially praises for what God has done in the last week.
  2. What are the dangers of thinking too highly of ourselves? How does this kind of thinking damage a church?
  3. According to this passage what’s the alternative to pride (thinking too highly of yourself)? What’s the relationship between these two ways of thinking?
  4. Based generally on verses 6-8, which gifts do you see present in each other?
  5. In what ways can one live out these gifts as a part of Dulin’s Grove?
  6. What practical step will you take in response to this passage, to use your gifts as part of the church?
  7. Pray together.
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