11. For the Glory of Christ
Complete Biblical Exercise: Romans 15 beginning on page 69.
Consider the following possibility: All of the people in your church have recently begun to see their entire lives as ministry. They’re seeing their occupations as places where they can represent Christ. They have reflected on the character traits they need in order to best represent Christ to coworkers and are starting to implement changes. Individuals who previously were only receivers of ministry at church are now serving there as well. Families also are being transformed. Parents, sons, and daughters are ministering to one another.
Can you imagine a community of believers living like this? How would they affect the broader community? Imagine the influence in a company in which ministry-minded Christians are scattered throughout the organization, from the top leadership down to the lowest-paying position. Imagine what church events and programs would be like. When a visitor came to a church event, what would he observe? Imagine the impact in a community if all the families in your church body had a ministry mindset. What would be the effect on neighborhood gatherings, Little League games, and birthday parties?
The point here is not that your culture can become entirely Christian, a paradise on earth. Rather, the point is to consider the impact Christians can have. All too often, believers leave their faith locked away in some private part of their heart. This approach is inconsistent with the Christian faith. Christ calls us not only to forgiveness from sin and acceptance by God but also to repentance, transformation, and active love for others. His call involves adopting the attitude of a servant (see Philippians 2:3-11).
Christ’s servant attitude and behavior led to His exaltation. Because we have become identified with Christ, we too are called to take on a servant attitude that leads to Christ’s exaltation. If our Christian communities reflect this attitude, our neighbors will take notice and some will be drawn to enter the community of faith.
At the heart of a ministry mindset is love. Our calling is most fundamentally a calling to love. We are called to experience our Father’s love and then exercise love for others:
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge––that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:16-19)
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 John 4:10-11)
While our ministry of love (others-orientation, sacrifice, honesty) in the world might lead to the conversion of unbelievers, their conversion is not our responsibility. God is the One who draws persons into relationship with Himself. When people are reconciled to Him and when believers’ lives are transformed by His love, God is glorified. He is the agent of reconciliation and transformation. Yet He is exalted when His children cooperate with Him in His work.
Not only is ministry part of our calling but it also leads to the most fulfilling life we can have. May you experience the fullness of Christ’s love, and may your experience of that love overflow in service to others. Johann Sebastian Bach signed all of his compositions Soli Deo Gloria, which means “to God only be glory.” May all that we do be signed with those words.
Read Romans 15:1-13. Also, review “A Method for the Biblical Exercises” beginning on page 17.
Observation—“What Do I See?”
1. Who are the persons (including God) in the passage? What is the condition of those persons?
2. What subjects did Paul discuss in the passage? What did he assert?
3. Note the sequence in which Paul made these assertions. (You might number them in order.)
4. What did Paul emphasize? Are there repeated ideas and themes? How are the various parts related?
5. Why did Paul write this passage? (Did he say anything about ways he expected the reader to change after reading it?)
Interpretation Phase 1—“What Did It Mean Then?”
1. Coming to Terms—Are there any words in the passage that you don’t understand? Write down anything you found confusing about the passage.
2. Finding Where It Fits—What clues does the Bible give about the meaning of this passage?
• Immediate Context (the passage being studied)
• Remote Context (passages that come before and after the one being studied)
3. Getting into Their Sandals—An Exercise in Imagination
• What are the main points of this passage? Summarize or write an outline of the passage.
• What do you think the recipients of the letter were supposed to take from this passage? How did God, inspiring Paul to write Romans, want this passage to impact the Roman believers?
Interpretation Phase 2—“What Does It Mean Now?”
1. What is the timeless truth in the passage? In one or two sentences, write down what you learned about God from Romans 15.
2. How does that truth work today?
Application—“What Can I Do to Make This Truth Real?”
1. What can I do to make this truth real for myself?
2. For my family?
3. For my friends?
4. For the people who live near me?
5. For the rest of the world?
Related Topics: Christology