A time for……..transformed Mission
Sermon date: 12th May
Readings: Romans 12 v. 1-18
In pairs imagine you are about to set out on an exciting mission. Maybe you could be inspired by Tom Cruise in the film Mission Impossible or an undercover or military campaign; you can let your imagination run wild here!
What are you feeling as you prepare for and set out on the mission, what equipment and instructions do you need? Who will give the instructions and how will you know if you have been successful? Briefly share your reflections with the group.
As always, the questions below are intended to prompt so please be selective as you think best for your group. Do try and cover the whole passage in the study though.
Please read together Romans 12 v 1-18
As well as reading the NIV if you can, ask someone to also read it in other translations like the NRSV and also in The Message. Do the differences between versions raise any interesting questions amongst the group?
Paul starts Chapter 12 with the word “Therefore”. When Paul uses “therefore” we usually do well to ask “what is it there for?”!
The passage in context: Paul sets out his theology in Chapters 1-11; in other words “what to believe”. Chapters 12 – 15 are principally about how we are to live and behave. “Therefore” gives recognition to Paul’s exposition of faith in 1-11. One is the practical outworking of the other.
Paul is sending us out on a mission to be transformed and to live out our faith in a Godly way. First he tells us how we must prepare ourselves and then gives instructions on how we are to live.
Preparation for the mission (v 1-2)
Q1. Why are we to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice? Why bodies and not just hearts/minds?
Paul says we should do so “in view of God’s mercy” to us. It is important it is the body – this is a practical outworking of faith. Greek readers would have been shocked by this as they would have been brought up on Platonic thought which regarded the bodies as an embarrassing encumbrance. Note that the listeners would be familiar with sacrifice resulting in the death of an animal but we are called to be living sacrifices. There is an implication we die to our old selves.
Q2. What does it mean for us to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice?
How does it affect our lives and the way we live? What does it cost us and what might we gain through it?
Q3. In what ways must we be transformed in response to God’s mercy?
Our minds should be renewed so we are able to discern and test God’s will for us.
How should we live? (v 3-8)
Paul calls us to live in community with our fellow believers (v 5: “…so in Christ, we who are many form one body”). Jews and Gentiles would have struggled culturally with thinking of themselves as part of one body in Christ.
Q4. Can the existence of multiple denominations accord with Paul saying we are “one body”?
Q5. What opinion should we hold of ourselves both in the context of our faith and in relation to others in our community?
Q6. In what way are we to serve the community with our gifts and abilities?
Paul calls on us to use our gifts but (perhaps) to stick to what we are good at and encourage/let other be good at what they can do. Note that the gifts Paul mentions are mainly practical gifts. If you have time, compare the list with that Pauls presents in 1 Corinthian’s 12 v 27-30. Why might it be different?
Q7. Do you have any work to do in discerning your gift(s) and putting it/them to use for the benefit of the body of Christ?
How should we love?
Q8. In v10 Paul calls us to be “devoted to one another in brotherly love”. What does the passage tell us about the characteristics of this brotherly love?
Q9. What impact might it have on the secular world if they see a Christian community of brotherly love in action?
Q10. What can we do individually and as a church to increase brotherly love amongst us? Pick one thing you will do and share with the group, if appropriate.
Prayer (These are just some prompts and ideas)
Thank our heavenly Father for his mercy and spend some time quietly reflecting on what that means for us individually and as the body of Christ. You may like to play some relevant worship music during this time of reflection.
Consider prayerfully what it might mean for us to no longer conform to the pattern of the world. How radical are we called to be?
Maybe pray for one another that God might make our gifts known to us and that we may find a way of using them in our Christian community and beyond.
Phil Marlow, 07/05/2019