I preached last week at Redemption Church
on our Emotions. Here’s a little of the takeaway.
Romans: Vertical and Horizontal
Paul’s epistle to the Romans (57-58 A.D.) stands as a tower, a lighthouse in a very dark world brimming and brooding with various forms of evil in every corner. When I think of the epistle to the Romans I think of God's incredible creation story. I think of our sin and all the consequences that we still bear. I think of the sending of the great savior, our Lord Jesus. And I can't help but daydream about all that is to come when he returns.
Just reading through Romans and grappling with all that is being said is not for the faint of heart. And equally as challenging is the application of the content! The first 11 chapters speak primarily to us about God, the gospel, the work of Jesus' redemption, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (vertical).
But then in chapter 12 (vv. 9-21) Paul provides for us a vision for what mature Christian life actually looks like on the ground level (horizontal). He tells us that we are to be a loving, honorable, patient, blessing, encouraging, peaceable, community. Christians are not to be the people who hit back or harbor bitterness. Christians are to be a forgiving people, a preserving people; the salt and light that Jesus spoke about (Matt. 5:13-14).
The Christian Life is Impossible!
And yet, if Paul were to command us to do all of these things without first and foremost anchoring our entire identity in Jesus, this would simply be impossible! We would fail; falling flat on our faces in the first 10 seconds! Why? Because the Christian life is anything but natural to us!
Don't Get the Cart Before the Horse!
In the gospel, the imperatives always follow the indicatives. What we should do as Christians is always grounded in what has been done in Christ. We can't afford to get the cart before the horse on this one. If we do, we lose the gospel!
You see, the way into Christ-likeness is not through a white-knuckled, grind-it-out, prove-you're-serious-and-scourge-yourself discipline (though discipline is at the core of discipleship). The way to becoming more like Jesus is to place him at the center of our thoughts and looking for him everywhere-starting with and saturated by the Scriptures.
Look to Jesus!
So rather than reading Romans 12 and being broken by the the weight of the expectations, see Jesus there as our great example and Savior for when we fall short. Take a moment and marvel at each of these statements about our Lord Jesus in light of Romans 12.
Jesus' love is genuine.
Jesus abhors what is evil; Jesus holds fast to what is good.
Jesus loves others with brotherly affection.
Jesus outdoes everyone in showing honor.
Jesus is not be slothful in zeal, but Jesus is fervent in spirit, and Jesus served the Lord.
Jesus rejoices in hope, Jesus was patient in tribulation, and Jesus was found to be in constant prayer.
Jesus contributed to the needs of the saints and Jesus showed hospitality.
Jesus blessed his persecutors; Jesus blessed and did not curse them.
Jesus rejoices with those who rejoice, and Jesus weeps with those who weep.
Jesus lived in harmony with the other disciples and Jesus lives in harmony with us.
Jesus is not haughty, but associates with the lowly.
Jesus was never be wise in his own sight.
Jesus repaid no one evil for evil, but Jesus gave thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.
As far as it depended on Jesus, he lived peaceably with all.
Jesus, never avenged himself, but left it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, Jesus fed his hungry enemies and gave water to anyone who was thirsty.
Jesus was not overcome by evil, but overcame evil with good.
Christian, this is our Jesus. This is who we follow. This is who the Holy Spirit is conforming us to be more like day in and day out.