Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Devotional Sample: Romans 12:3-8

Scrambling as usual to finish something that was supposed to be done a long time ago. Here's a day in the life of my devotionals that accompany the Paul books. This is from a devotional on Romans 9-16 called Our Relationships, that accompanies the Paul: Solider of Peace book.

Title: Yourself in Perspective
Scripture Passage: Romans 12:3-8

These verses give us the first example of what a transformed mind looks like.  Such individuals recognize that they are only part of the puzzle, part of a team consisting of the rest of the church.

The Core Teaching:
Romans 12:2 has urged the Romans to have a renewed mind, which is one set on the Spirit rather than the flesh (Rom. 8:5).  These verses show some of the specifics of what it looks like.  A renewed mind does not have an overly inflated opinion of itself.  It recognizes that while you are incredibly important to God, everyone else in your local assembly of believers is too.  God has given you certain gifts, but he has given other gifts to others that you do not have.  They are all gifts from God, not something you can boast about, as if you are responsible for your giftedness.  So let each person exercise his or her own gift for the good of the whole body.

The Word Speaks:
In this passage, Paul gives the Romans the equivalent of what he gave the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 12.  In 1 Corinthians, his picture of a body with many parts especially targeted a local group of believers in a house church.  The local church is the first and most important way to read these words in Romans as well.  In a local group of believers we will find different kinds of God-given talents and roles.  Some are good at seeing the way forward (prophesying).  Others are good at informing others about who we are and how we live (teaching).  Some are great at encouraging or serving.  Some are good at leading.  Notice that Paul puts this role near the end!

Life Reflection:
The lists of roles in Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4 have really resonated with some Christians in recent decades.  You can even take “spiritual gift tests” to find out what your particular “gift” is.  These tools can be helpful, but they can also feed a certain narcissism and unhealthy introspection.  They can turn Paul’s instructions about appreciating each other into a mirror to admire ourselves.  Paul never meant these lists to be exhaustive or to pigeonhole what God does with you.  We can grow.  God can change us.  What these lists are really about is us appreciating each other and not thinking too highly of ourselves (12:3).  They are as much about me realizing who I am not as who I am.

Responding through Prayer:
Father, help us to see ourselves in proper perspective, as only one member of a body that functions together as one.


Angie Van De Merwe said...

I hate with a vengence collective thought! It is the distain of anyone that values, liberty, justice, and a free society! This is a tribalist's mentality! What does such a mindset really say?

We might not be responsible for our natural abilities, but, aren't we responsible for our own life? or do others have the right to decide where we fit? some might think that their role is to 'lead" meaning plan another's place, as this is "good organizational structuring", or "being responsible before God". Isn't that presumptuous? Or are those that "lead" supposed to disregard any interests or opinion of those that are to follow and disregard any part of "choice" on those that are to follow? Is this respectful, and yet, they demand respect through a "following"?....those that follow are only mindless robots, that are to "hand over their lives" without question because "God has ordained" such and such...!! After all, God finds such as these "useful" (ultilitarian), irregardless of their desires, hopes dreams, ambitions, or goals! After all they aren't really valued unless they do as they are told and carry out the proposed plan, as a commodity, to bring about a prespecified plan that is labeled in "spritual lingo"!! It is structure and order, at the cost of individuality, and distinction.

Such thinking takes "mindless faith" that is totally dependent on "leadership", which undermines most of my values; choice, liberty of conscience, respect and mutuality in relationship, and it takes belief in a "God" superintending or predetermining "his plan". Such faith I don't care to have, as that kind of faith does disservice to "the personal". It is an enmeshed identity, that is unhealthy. Co-dependency needs those that are over-bearing and those that are compliant. And co-dependency is an unhealthy relationship!

One must have choice about what, where, when, and how they will serve society. And this is what the university seeks to further in the lives of independent and mindful young people!

Ken Schenck said...

"Mind" in this passage is not so much about what we believe but about our attitudes toward each other.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

My attitude is distain for those that are so assured of their understanding of "God" that they presume upon another's life.

"Life" is about the whole person, NOT just how one fits another's "Plan", whether "God" or man's!!!

Ken Schenck said...

If God exists, of course, then it is ultimately all about his will. Thankfully, as an Arminian, God's will turns out to be the best for me and us as well. If you're a Muslim or Calvinist, on the other hand, then it turns out pretty much just to be about him whether I'm fried or not. ;-)

Angie Van De Merwe said...

"God" is leadership, because practically speaking, these are the ones that determine or decide. Religious authorities determine based on some understanding of "God" and this is the problem, isn't it?

Our government is, practically speaking, "God", which structures our society, but does not determine the individual. Good citizens submit to the laws of the land. But, don't some "good citizens" also protest to things done in government that disregard those it is supposed to serve? (when government leaders do not lead well).

And then, ultimately, the person, himself is "god" because he determines his own course in and for his own life.

As an Arminian, you believe in personal choice and responsiblity. But, we might part ways, regarding "Christian"....