In this passage of Romans 12, Paul talks about the importance of being in a church community. In verses 1 and 2, Paul introduced what the Christian life should truly look like. It involves a radical call to worship, motivated by the mercies of God to live out the process of internal and external transformation. With this template in mind, Paul now transitions to the significance of belonging and engaging with a Church community. Renewal is not only personal, but communal.
Here are 3 points that will help us understand what it means to be in a renewed community:
- A Renewed View of Self (Grace, Sobriety, Faith)
- A Renewed View of the Church (Many parts, One body, Members of one another)
- A Transformed View of My Gift (Grace, Use it, Faith)
Paul wants us to view the church as a supernatural community of renewed people that is unlike anything we’ve ever experienced.
A Renewed View of Self (Romans 12:3)
A renewed community begins with a renewed view of yourself. As we receive grace from God, we are called to share it with other people. For that reason, Paul warns us not to become prideful or fall into misconception of false humility (that is, thinking less of yourself). Because we have a tendency to think too much of ourselves, Paul is attempting to ease us into this new reality that God is calling us to. We have to be self-aware about our limitations and strengths. By humbling ourselves, we come to the realization that we can’t do life alone. Having this new view of self is only possible by grace, which grants us the sober thinking needed to properly assess us ourselves and allows us to trust God to do amazing things.
A Renewed View of the Church (Romans 12:4-5)
Paul provides an interesting metaphor that best describes how members of a church community should treat one another. He compares the church to a human body, which helps us to think about how each part of our bodies is essential to living. In Christ we are one body: the body of Christ. Each of us are members of one another and we play a unique part in advancing the Gospel. It doesn’t mean that we won’t ever experience disillusionment, disappointments, or disagreements. But Paul uses the body metaphor to also warn us against alienation. As members of the body of Christ, we belong to one another. Jesus Christ, acting as the head of the Church, died so that we would be united to each other and to Himself. In order for the body to function properly, we need to learn how to live with one another. As imperfect people serving a perfect God, we need Christ to renew our view of the Church.
A Transformed View of My Gift (Romans 12:6-8)
By having a renewed view of self and the Church, Paul now wants us to use the gifts that God has equipped us with. Because we belong to the body of Christ, God gives us these gifts by grace. Not to serve ourselves, but the local church that we belong to. A key component of church membership is growing in our gifts and understanding how we can best utilize them for the glory of God. Whether we know our gifts or still trying to figure them out, continually seeking God and remaining connected to the church community helps us determine where and how we should serve. But we must act out in faith to serve, since the way you use your gift reveals where your identity is.
Transactional relationships do not belong in a renewed community. The body of Christ stays healthy when we give away grace and not keep it to ourselves. When we begin to act like the renewed church, then our witness to the world becomes more effective and consistent with the message of the Gospel.