The core of the Christian faith

Sermon on Romans 12:3-8

Worship Service (Sermon Series: Romans 12), , , automatically translated , Evangelical Free Church congregation Leichlingen

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On Tuesday I heard an interesting interview on the radio. As is often the case, it was about how to deal with Islam. an eminent professor of Catholic theology was interviewed. And I found his statement very remarkable, because he complained about the fact that the church says anything about anything, but never comments on it, what the Christian faith is all about, what the core of it is.

They say that war is wrong, that refugees should be treated well, and sometimes they even mention the Bible, because it also says that the alien should not be oppressed.

We should take care of the poor, the weak, etc.

None of this is wrong, but so could the Red Crescent. Other non-Christian organisations are also diaconally and care.

So what is the point of the Christian faith? Why God? Many others are also doing good and important work.

The theology professor on the radio did not make such a clear statement, although that was also due to the fact that the presenter did not want to hear such a thing. moderator didn't want to hear anything like that.

So what for? We could do without the service and instead have a big soup kitchen here every Sunday. The room here is big enough and that is at least tangible and practical.

With some church people, you actually get the feeling that they secretly really believe that.

What then is the core of the Christian faith?

At a very basic level, I would say that God exists and can and wants to work. But that is not all.

God has a personal interest in you and me and wants to be part of your life and mine. And with such a concrete God, it stops with many people, even with many people who are members of a so-called popular church.

But the Bible goes one step further and deals with our personal sin: Our selfishness, our self-deception, our lies, and whatnot. I don't know what else. I don't want to reproach or even insult anyone, I don't exclude myself. It is a matter of opening It's about opening our eyes to and for ourselves.

Lord, give me an honest picture of myself. Show me what I am really like. Of course, this also includes finding out what positive and positive and negative effects my words and actions have on other people. And that is how God sees us.

It is not about making oneself small before other people, but it is about recognising how one stands before God.

And then you are faced with the choice of how to deal with that realisation. Many people drop out before that, but you can go to Jesus Christ with this realisation. Jesus Christ and experience that you are still accepted and loved by God.

The heading

And then you come to the verses from Romans 12:1.2; NGÜ, which are the heading for our sermon series that we start today:

1 I have set before you, brothers and sisters, how great God's mercy is. The only proper response to this is that you make your whole life available to God and present yourselves to him as a living and holy sacrifice in which he delights. That is the true service of God, and that is what I urge you to do. 2 No longer judge yourselves by 'the standards' of this world, but learn to think in a new way so that you can be changed and judge whether something is God's will - whether it is good, whether God delights in it and whether it is perfect.

In the previous chapters of Romans, Paul has described this mercy of God in detail. Of course, it is not enough just to read that, one must also experience it oneself through a decision, through turning to Jesus Christ.

And that is the core of the Christian faith. And diaconal activities, among other things, follow from this. Maybe we will someday do a soup kitchen every week, but it will never replace this service, because we want to hear from God and be changed, just as these Bible verses say.

But let's take a closer look at this heading of our sermon series

become the way God intended them to be, and we can experience that too. Let us pray for change, not only for the others who annoy us, but first for ourselves.

Well, now the sermon is half over and I have only looked at the heading so far, but I would like to go into a bit more detail.

Who am I?

Romans 12:3; NGÜ

I therefore, by the authority which God has given me in His grace, call each one of you to sober self-assessment. Let no one think more highly of himself than is appropriate. The standard for proper self-assessment is the faith that God has allotted to each one in a certain measure.

Paul is speaking here on the basis of his authority, but I believe that the authority to call the next person to sober self-assessment is ours. each one of us.

I have already explained this earlier: Have we prayed before: Lord, show me what I am really like?

But then another criterion is mentioned:

The standard for the right self-assessment is the faith that God has allotted to everyone in a certain measure.

What does that mean?

I think of it like this. Let's take a guest service as an example. Do you believe that strangers will come, that God will work, yes, that he will do great things?

If not, then you are not that important for this guest service, even though you might be the organiser or the preacher.

Most of the time, the people who are important in human terms are considered the important ones, but in God's eyes, it is the measure of faith that decides the importance. faith decides the importance.

A guest service like this can run into the wall organisationally, but through testimonies and conversations around the event, God can God can bring about great things.

Where are the people with a great measure of faith in our congregation? These are the really important people with us.

Gifts and tasks

Of course, my presentation was just a little abbreviated. Of course we should not neglect preaching, organisation and all the other gifts. should not be neglected.

This is described very simply in Romans 12:4-6a; NGÜ:

4 It is like our body: it is made up of many body parts, which form one body, and yet each of which has its own special task. 5 In the same way, we are all - however many 'and however different` we may be - one body through our union with Christ, and like the members of our body we are dependent one on the other. 6 For the gifts that God has given us in his grace are different.

This means that actually all gifts and tasks are important.

But let us first look at the body. We are a body only through our union with Christ. If we were to put together our own personal church, it would probably look very different. We are different and many of us would probably have nothing to do with each other, if we weren't connected through Jesus, we probably wouldn't have anything to do with each other.

That is one of the secrets of the church. It's like a family. You are placed in a family by another power, you can't choose it. And it's the same with the church.

There are of course cases where people break off contact with family members, have to break off contact, but that remains somehow unnatural and sometimes painful, even if it has to be.

It is the same with the community. When one leaves or has to leave, for whatever reason, that is also a a painful loss. A gap remains that often needs time to heal.

We are different and depend on each other, because we have different gifts and tasks.

In a body, each part of the body has its own special task that only it can do.

We are not quite so specialised, we can already perform different tasks. But the image expresses that the tasks should already be be distributed.

At first I had the phrase on the tip of my tongue that the burdens should be distributed and sometimes, of course, a task can also be a burden. Sometimes, of course, a task can be a burden, and there are certainly tasks that only very few people like to do.

But if one has a gift, then it is usually also the case that one likes to use this gift. Writing is easy for the hand, but for the learning to write is a really strenuous thing for the foot. Some people who have no hands due to an accident or disability, write with their foot. So it is possible, but it is very difficult.

You are allowed to have fun with your task. It's not a question of only doing what you enjoy - that would be by the standards of this world - but it's not forbidden to enjoy it. But it is not forbidden to have fun with a task. And a prerequisite for that is usually that one has the gift for this task.


We were at the Willow Creek Congress with some of the leadership circle and spouses and heard a lot about leadership. And one of the things that became important to me was that tasks are distributed. The term "delegate" came to my mind in this context, but I don't really like it. Because it sounds as if we, as a leadership group, collect the tasks and then delegate them to others. and then distribute them by "you do this, you do that, etc.". I don't think that works.

I see us as a leadership circle more as a gift-recogniser, that we approach people from the congregation, or the other way round, that you approach us, so that everyone can find one or more tasks if they don't already have them. Gift connoisseur may be a bit of a mouthful, but I can't think of a better word. I can't think of a better word.

Let us draw the ideal picture:

Every member of the congregation has at least one task that he or she enjoys doing. They get involved, enjoy it and are not discouraged by setbacks. discouraged by setbacks. They realise that God is on the way with them in their task.

It is my congregation where I gladly contribute my gifts and take on tasks, and no one has to convince me that I like it. I just like to do it.

Individual gifts

The following list from our text in verses 6-8 is certainly not complete. I also think that a distinction between spiritual gifts and natural gifts often does not make sense in practice.

Jesus Christ wants us to build the kingdom of God on earth and this kingdom of God is expressed, apart from our personal witness, is expressed in our local church. And for this there are tasks to build up the church, to edify each other in the church, to help each other. to edify each other, to help and serve each other. And that is what the gifts are for, whether natural or spiritual gifts.

In 1 Corinthians 12 there is a detailed chapter on spiritual gifts and I find the final verse (v.31) of this chapter fascinating:

However, the benefit to the church is not the same for all gifts. Seek the gifts that are most beneficial to the church! And now I show you a way that leads far beyond all that.

The benefit of the other is in the foreground. What is the benefit of the congregation? And "strive for gifts" also means, by the way, that one does not have to be with one task for the rest of your life. You can learn, you can receive new spiritual gifts from God and you can also learn new skills. learn. Maybe you can also bring out natural gifts that have been buried.

And this motive also becomes clear in the next chapter, in 1 Corinthians 13. Paul writes here about the way beyond everything. beyond everything. This chapter 13 is the Song of Songs of Love, and love seeks the best for others. If one learns to love one's neighbour then the benefit of the other is a matter of course. Of course, we all still have a long way to go, but in the end, the exercise of one's But in the end, the exercise of one's own gifts should be a living love for one's neighbour.

Now let's take a look at the gifts in detail.

Prophetic speaking

If someone has the gift of prophetic speaking, it is his task to use it in accordance with faith.

There is also prophecy about the future, but that is probably rather rare. I think what is meant here is that God specifically tells someone something that he to tell someone something that they should pass on. But what is "in accordance with faith"?

Probably it is also about the motive of the prophesier. Do I want to benefit the other person or just 'get one over on him'?

And do I accept it if the person being prophesied to comes to a different conclusion?

Let us take a look at Acts 21:4. Luke, who was travelling with Paul, writes:

4 We sought out the disciples 'who lived in Tyre,` and stayed with them for a week. The Holy Spirit had shown them the dangers Paul faced in Jerusalem, and they warned the apostle strongly against going any further.

And what does Paul do?

5 Nevertheless, when the time allotted for our stay was up, we set off again.

And that will happen at least once more.

13 But Paul replied: "Why are you weeping? Why do you make it so difficult for me? For the Lord Jesus I am not only ready to be taken prisoner in Jerusalem; for him I am also ready to die." 14 Finally, we gave up trying to change Paul's mind and said, "May what the Lord wills be done!"

Shouldn't the prophets be angry?

God told me this would go wrong, and yet you don't listen to me.

In accordance with faith probably means to love the other person anyway, to pray for him and to respect him if he comes to a different decision despite a and respect him when he comes to a different decision despite clear prophecy.

Practical service

If someone has the gift of practical service, he should use this gift.

That can happen to anyone, you think. But it's not just about being able to do something practically, but also having the willingness, to be able to do it as a service to others. This can be a tightrope walk, where one avoids helping others as a matter of course with the thought "This is not my service!".

However, no one can take this judgement away from you.

But if you have this gift, then you usually like to do it, I think.

Teachings

If someone has the gift of teaching, it is their job to teach.

Can I teach others? Do the others understand me?

You might still know teachers from school who know a lot but can't communicate it. That would be an anti-criterion.

Teaching is certainly preaching, group leadership and the like.

When is a teacher a good teacher? I think you always have to be willing to learn yourself. If you are a learner, then you know If you are a learner, then you know what it feels like to learn and you know how the person you are trying to teach feels.

Pastoral care

If someone has the gift of pastoral care, they should help others in a pastoral way.

Being discreet, being a companion, being a praying person, there are different criteria for that. I think one should be very careful with advice. advice. And also authoritarian behaviour is usually not appropriate for pastors.

If you are never called by people who tell you their problems, then you are probably not a pastor. But maybe this statement is too flat.

Material support

Those who support others materially should do so altruistically.

Such support must not be a personal investment.

In 2 Corinthians 9:6,7; NGÜ the basic principle of giving in the Kingdom of God is described:

6 Remember, he who sows little will also reap little. And he who sows abundantly will reap abundantly. 7 Let each person decide for himself how much he wants to give, and then give the amount without regret or reluctance. God loves the one who gives cheerfully.

Some have a special gift for being generous and giving. But it is one's own responsibility.

But God will reward generosity, that is also clear here.

Bearing responsibility for others

Those who bear responsibility for others should not lack the necessary devotion.

This is about leadership, where almost everyone has some form of responsibility for others, whether it is family, friends or work colleagues. work colleagues.

The Elberfelder translation says, "He who presides, with diligence". Crisply short, but what does "foremost" mean? Giving orders or just standing in front of the entrance of the congregation looking pretty, like these people in uniform stand in front of noble hotels?

I like the translation with responsibility better. Responsibility has the benefit of the other in mind. How do you help him in his How do you help him in his personal life, in his life of faith, what helps him in his tasks in the congregation?

Maybe we as church leadership should have a kind of staff meeting with each church member once a year, one at a time, not all together.

In some companies this is done, although it is more about performance appraisals and salary negotiations, which would be omitted here. all that would be omitted here.

I would be more interested in hearing: How does the other person feel about his situation in the community? Does he have problems with others? Is he coping with his tasks? Is he still looking for tasks, or does he have too much? Does he perhaps need training?

Don't get me wrong. It's not about controlling the work, nor is it about me telling someone how to do their job. how to do their job. In most cases, I can't do that at all.

Maybe it's a stupid idea to have a performance review. You could think about it.

But there's one thing I don't want: that someone here has been doing some kind of service for months or years, hating this service and feeling trapped: If I don't do it, no one will.

If you feel that way or are dissatisfied for any other reason, then please talk to one of us in the leadership circle. the leadership circle. Of course, we don't have any secret recipes in the drawer, but nevertheless, maybe something can be changed or improved.

Caring

Those who care for those in need should do so with a cheerful heart.

If those in need are only perceived as a burden, then that is not good. The cheerful heart must radiate from the one who helps and thus help to build up the needy in addition to providing material help.

Not everyone can do that, but I admire those who can.

But the cheerful heart actually also applies to other gifts and tasks:

Serve your neighbour with a cheerful heart.

Summary

I come to the conclusion.

Did you find yourself somewhere?

If you like what you do, feel free to tell others about it.

If you feel trapped in your tasks, at least tell us in the leadership circle. Maybe we can find a way out in some way.