(You can listen to this sermon here)
As Christians, we find ourselves in a narcissistic selfie-culture. We’re encouraged to look out only for number one. It's about climbing the ladder regardless of the people we step on to get there. Unfortunately, this worldview is not only a destructive pathway to isolation and perpetual unhappiness; it’s completely contradictory to the life we’ve been called to live in Christ.
As I prepare to preach on Romans 15 this weekend, here are a few of my thoughts going into my sermon.
In the first few verses of Romans 15 we find a very pointed command from Paul. He tells us how we are to relate to other believers. Paul begins by addressing those “who are strong” in the faith (Romans 15:1). He encourages those believers to be looking out for those who are weaker in their faith. Right off the bat, this verse stands in stark contrast to the way our culture operates. It’s a 'survival of the fittest' ideology that dominates western culture and finds its way into the Church.
Those who are more mature, more educated, or have more experience can slip into the mindset of seeing weaker believers as a means to and end – useful in getting things done but not much else. This is why Paul says that the strong, or mature, should look out for the weaker believer. But it's not to “to please ourselves” Romans 15:1) but to “build him up” (Romans 15:2).
When was the last time you looked at a Christian brother or sister further back on their Christian journey and thought, “Now there is someone I could pour my life into and help build up in Christ!”?
In Romans 15:3 Paul points us to Christ as the ultimate example. All throughout the Gospels Jesus makes many statements about serving others and putting their needs before our own. In Matthew 20:25-28 Jesus said to his disciples: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (emphasis mine)
In this passage, Jesus tells his disciples that in order to be great, they need to be servants. Why? Because even Jesus did not come to be served (even though he was the perfect Son of God). Instead, he came to serve others. He set an incredible example.
If Jesus came to serve mankind, how much more should you and I be willing servants?
Paul uses this same language in his other epistles. We find it in Philippians 2:4, 1 Corinthians 9:19, and 1 Corinthians 10:24. We are called to love, serve, build up, and live in harmony with our fellow believers. In doing so, we will bring glory to God as we see in Romans 15:5-6. That passages reads, “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
I encourage you you to think through this. Pray for opportunities to pour your life into the lives of other believers around you. Is this not a part of the Great Commission? I believe it is the responsibility of every believer to pursue making disciples (Matthew 28:18-20), spurring one another on (Hebrews 10:24-25), and sharpening each other in the faith (Proverbs 27:17), in order that we, as the body of Christ, will be able to live in harmony with one another. And in doing so, we will bring much glory to God!
1. We have an obligation to bear with one another as Paul stated in verse 1. Who do you know that needs to be built up in the faith and discipled? How can you come alongside that person in order serve and love them to that end?
2. Why do you think many Christians are not actively engaged in sharpening each other and making disciples?
3. What else can we learn from Christ’s example in these verses? (Romans 5:1-7)
For His Kingdom,