Monday, July 2, 2007

My week at camp & Romans 12:1

I had the opportunity to spend this last week working at a camp. It was really one of the best weeks I’ve had in years! I was given the opportunity to help out with a good chunk of the program, which turned out to be a great deal of fun for me. Additionally, I was given the opportunity to preach once. The only downer during the week was the fact that we had nearly a foot of rain dumped on us… I was very impressed with the kids though, as I never heard a word of complaint about it. We were still able to stick with our regular program for the most part, despite the rain. It rarely rained hard during a scheduled outdoor activity, and there was no thunder and lightning during the week, so we just carried on with business as usual. God was gracious in allowing us to go on with our schedule without much need for modification.

After camp, my family and I stayed in the area so that I could preach Sunday morning and Sunday night in my in-laws church. It’s been a number of years since I preached in an SBC church, and we had a great time. I really enjoyed the message I preached Sunday night, and I benefited from it greatly. I’d never preached it before and the message itself grew out of a conversation I had with a good friend (thanks, Mike!).

It was a look at Romans 12:1-2, but the focus was on verse 1: “I beseech you therefore brethren by the mercies of God…” We looked at WHY we do what we do. Sometimes we get so caught up in doing simply for the purpose of doing, but Paul gives us the reason WHY we should do in this passage. He calls back on the mercies of God that he has explained in great detail throughout the first 11 chapters of Romans (particularly in chapters 4-11). I think that too often we teach these verses independently of the first 11 chapters of Romans. If you read and teach these verses without those first 11 chapters, it could lead to a dangerous legalism (I’ve seen this first-hand). Our “living sacrifice” to God should be motivated out of gratitude for what he has done for us and out of love for what He is to us. So often in fundamentalism, we get caught up in just making sure we do the right thing. We dress the right way, speak the right way, use the right music, stay away from alcohol and tobacco, avoid dancing….. In short, we focus on toeing the line, but in doing so we often display the mentality of a mindless drone. As I’ve studied this passage I’ve become convinced that God isn’t just concerned that we do the right thing, He is concerned that we do it for the right reasons. Our great motivation is gratitude and love toward a remarkable God Who daily sees fit to load us with benefits! Take a look at Romans 8 where Paul lays out so eloquently many of the mercies of God about which he speaks in Romans 12:1. Think about it: No condemnation ... sonship .. heirship ... a sinless Savior making perpetual intercession for us … the inescapable, constant love of God …all this and more is mentioned for us in Romans 8. God has done so much for us and has shown His grace, love, and mercy to us in countless ways. Perhaps we should add some feeling to our service….

I’ll probably add some of my notes from this passage in a future post.

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