Sermon Summary How would God have me relate to other believers in my spiritual family? What should that really look like? On the night that Jesus knew he was going to die, he had a very significant conversation with his disciples. Jesus didn’t talk about strategy; he didn’t talk about doctrine, he talked about how we should treat one another. After modeling for them what true servanthood looks like, He gave a command: “love one another just as I have loved you.” (John 13:34–35). He loved them unconditionally, openly, and vulnerably. He loved them when it wasn’t convenient.
But why was it so important to Jesus that his followers love one another in that way? The greatest and most powerful apologetic we can present to the world is not an argument out of a book, but the love Christians show to one another. When we radically and authentically love one another from the heart, the world stands back in awe and wonders, “What makes them care so deeply for one another?”
The credibility of Christianity rises or falls on the quality of our relationships with one another. Many of you here at TCC have tasted that kind of genuine community. Your community group is marked by honesty, by vulnerability, by compassion. Unfortunately many Christians have never experienced this kind of authentic community. Far too many Christians live, lonely, isolated lives. God wants more for us than that. He wants us to experience, genuine authentic community. The question is, how can we experience that? From Romans 12:9-13 we discover that authentic community occurs when: The real you (v. 9) meets real needs (v. 10) for the right reason (v. 11) in the right way (v. 12-13).
The real you has to show up. Not a projection of what you want others to think. Hypocrisy means “without a mask.” Paul is saying that for authentic community to take place we have to take off our masks. We need to be open and honest, and appropriately vulnerable. Authentic community cannot happen when we are wearing a mask, trying to impress one another, pretending to have it all together when we know that we don’t. I can never be loved for who I am, if people don’t know who I am. The possibility of rejection is real, but that is the price tag of authentic community.
That phrase, “abhor what is evil” is very strong; it means to hate, to detest, to be repulsed by. God wants us to have the same reaction to sin that He does. He wants us to be “repulsed” by it. The issue is not how close to sin we can get, but how close to purity and righteousness we can come. Is there a private sin in your life that needs to come to light? Are you tired of hiding? Tired of pretending, feeling guilty and alone? Then ask God to help you abhor what it evil and cling to what is good.
For us to meet the “real needs of others”, the second step in creating authentic community— loving devotion and humility (v. 10). We should have the same kind of loving commitment to those in our spiritual family that we do toward those in our physical family. When you hear about a legitimate need in the life of another brother or sister in Christ, do you seek to meet that need if you possibly can? (James 2:14-16).
The phrase, “not lagging behind in diligence” (v. 11), is actually a strong warning. The idea behind the original Greek here could be expressed, “Don’t be lazy! Don’t be the kind of person who is unwilling to expend energy or effort in service of another.” Rather than be lazy, Paul says, “be fervent in spirit.” In other words, we are to serve Christ with enthusiasm! We are to serve and love one another with zeal.
How can we restore that passion, that commitment to serve one another in brotherly love? The answer is found in verse 11—we do it by focusing on “serving the Lord.” We all need to check our motives. How can we know if our motives for serving Christ are pure? The acid test is how you respond when you are treated like a servant. How do you respond when you don’t get a “thank you?” How do you respond when you feel like you are being taken for granted, when you don’t feel like your efforts are being appropriately appreciated or recognized? How you answer those questions will tell you a whole lot about your underlying motives for why you do what you do.
What would it look like in your community group, or in your interactions with your brothers and sisters in Christ if this was really taking place? How would things be different? What specific steps would God have you take to imitate Jesus in this way?
Application / Challenge
- Romans 12:12-13 instructs us to love other believers and serve the Lord by “rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, and practicing hospitality.” Find out exactly what that means through this week’s “Digging Deeper in Your Daily Quiet Time” found in this week’s Talking Points, Walking Points – see the link below.
- What would it look like in your community group, or in your interactions with your brothers and sisters in Christ, if Romans 12:12-13 were really taking place? How would things be different?
- What specific steps would God have you take to imitate Jesus in this way?
- Find out more about serving opportunities at TCC: Serve at TCC