Last week in the Park YOTB reading schedule we finished Paul’s magnificent letter to the church in Rome. Reading through it a chapter a day is definitely a good way to become acquainted with Paul’s insight into the Scriptures and the revelation of salvation through Jesus death and resurrection. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Paul composes his letters by first grounding his readers in the firm theological foundation of God’s finished work in Jesus. He then gives explicitly practical instruction to believers on the basis of that finished work.
The transition from Romans 11:36 to 12:1 is a masterpiece.
Paul brings every aspect of his rich theological teaching to bear on his plea to the believers in Rome to live in such a way that their new life in Jesus will be a demonstration of God’s love within their community and subsequently to the watching world around them.
Romans 12:1-2 has become a guiding principle in my life.
Paul substantiates his plea for godly living among believers in God’s merciful work on behalf of sinners; regarding that work, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen,” (11:36). Paul’s appeal to the recipients of God’s forgiveness is, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God…” (12:1).
Paul is not telling us to act in a godly manner to please God, rather, now that we understand God’s great mercy to us we are to allow our lives to be changed so that we reflect the love of God to all people.
In Romans 12:2 we read “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” While these few words supply enough material for pages of commentary, I would just like to point out two specific features. First, the verb “be transformed” in Greek is a passive imperative (now don’t pass out on me), that is, it is a command to allow the transforming action to occur in our lives. Some might say, “Let go and let God,” but I think the text indicates that we have a part to play. We are to allow our minds to be renewed. Certainly, much of this happens as we spend time in the Scriptures and allow the Holy Spirit to point out things that need to change in us in honor of God.
Paul, however, does not end his letter by simply saying “read your bible”. Instead he gives the Roman church specific instructions on God honoring living. This is what he unfolds in chapters 12-15. Within this instruction Paul mentions “one another” nine times. Obviously it is best to read these references in context to get Paul’s intended meaning but here they are in brief;
“So we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another,” (Rom. 12:5).
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love,” (12:10);
“Give preference to one another in honor,” (12:10);
“Be of the same mind toward one another,” (12:16);
“Love one another,” (13:8).
“Therefore let us not judge one another anymore,” (14:13).
“So then let us pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another,” (14:19).
“Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus,” (15:5).
“I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to admonish one another,” (15:14).
In recognizing this feature to Paul’s instruction to the Roman church it becomes apparent that he saw a direct link between worshipping God and our interaction with each other.
We are not saved to isolation. On the contrary, we are welcomed into the family of God through His Son.
How we treat “one another” has a lot to do with our world view; a view that needs to be refocused according to God’s Way. This week at Park we will be considering our call as servants in following Jesus. The way to accomplish that role is to have the mind and heart of Jesus (Phil. 2:5-7). Are we willing to allow our minds to be renewed for the work of service to one another?
 I put this here for you nerdy people that bother to read the footnotes. Bonus section; it is important to remember that Paul is dealing with the Hebrew Scriptures, that is the Old Testament, so if you really want to understand the full impact of Paul’s writings you will have to spend some time there.