Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Transforming into the Person we are called to be

Romans 12:1-8
Rev. Debra Jene Collum
August 27, 2017
Chatfield UMC

Because of our conditioning and our MN nicenesss there is a piece of this scripture that we zero in on and if these words become the focus of this scripture then we will miss the importance of the rest of the scripture.

Listen again:
 I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

It’s that verse: Don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought. That is like the most Midwestern verse of the bible don’t you think?
We who are taught from our childhood that we are less than, not worth much, just barely talented…
We hear the messages in our heads don’t we:
Who do you think you are?
Do you think the world revolves around you?
You aren’t the center of the universe you know.

And then our beloved scriptures join in on the chorus:
Don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought.

Thanks Paul. That was helpful.

If that becomes the verse we focus on in this passage and if this is the attitude by which we approach our Christian life we will be forever stuck in a grace less, and powerless life. And that is never ever what God through Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit has planned for us. NEVER.

There is another word, WORD, one Word in this verse that is more important and central to our lives than these words of seeming belittlement.
And if we listen to this word and become what this word asks of us we won’t have to worry about becoming too big for our britches. We will live lives that are balanced between proper humility and proper empowerment. We will live lives that will be well pleasing to God and of service to our neighbors. And we will be balanced in our own hearts and souls.

So that magical word is: Transformed. Actually, two words: Be Transformed.
Be Transformed.

Out of your personal degradation, your personal bullying. All that old inner messages that tells you that you are not good enough, bright enough, brave enough.

Be transformed into that person God says you are, right here right now.
The person who has a gift that can be powerful in ministry.

Be transformed in your own mind to renewal. To seeing yourself as God sees you. As someone worth dying for. As someone worth living for. As someone worth gifting with the power of the holy spirit.

Be transformed so that you can discover the gift that God’s grace has given you. No matter what it is: if it is hospitality, by hospitable as Jesus would be hospitable.
If it is teaching, teach as if the person you are teaching might someday discover the cure for cancer or the way to peace
If your gift from God is serving, then serve as if each person you serve is the person of Jesus.
If it is encouragement, then encourage until everyone you meet believes that they are capable to the most brilliant and difficult and life changing action they could ever imagine.

Be transformed, in other words, so that your life reflects the life that God has already given you. A life of abundance and grace and love and devotion and LOVE.

Be transformed as Peter was transformed. From a doubting, betraying, head strong, ordinary fisherman into the Rock on which the church of Jesus the Christ was built. What if Peter had said: I am only a fisherman. I have no education, no credentials, no amazing gifts, God, use someone else more qualified. I’m sure there is some professional who can build your church. I’ll just stay home and catch fish.

God saw in Peter a gift of love and devotion and even head strong devotion to the work of Jesus the Christ and said to Peter, it is just what I need. Be transformed. Build my church.

Did Peter get it right every time. ABSOLUTELY NOT. Oh my no. He had to be taught over and over and over again just how much he needed to be transformed, daily, moment by moment as he learned to love people he didn’t think would be lovable. But I bet he sat at his bed every night amazed, amazed at how God was transforming his life. Amazed at how God was bringing into his life people he never imagined he could love. Amazed at how God’s work was spreading throughout the world just by the faithful words and works of Jesus followers.
Wouldn’t it be amazing to see that transformation of the world as the words of Jesus became known and practiced?
As people learned that they were worthy of the life death and resurrection of God’s own son, Jesus the Christ.
As people learned that there were worthy of forgiveness, grace and love.
As people who didn’t know they could eat together at the same table, ate with joy and inclusion?
As people who didn’t know they could leave behind destructive ways of living learn how to live lives that were hope filled?
As people who thought the only thing controlling their lives was a crooked and corrupt political system learned that they actually lived in the kindom of God which is ruled by justice, mercy and grace and love?
As people learned that living out of justice and mercy and grace and love could transform not only their own lives but the lives of their neighbors, their neighborhood, their community?

As people learned that they are not the center of the universe but they are the center of God’s heart.

Wouldn’t it be amazing: Well it is amazing! Right here right now!
As we learn that we are not the center of the universe but we are the center of God’s heart.

It is amazing. That we still have the courage to bring children to this fount and declare together that we will resist evil and injustice in whatever forms they present themselves.
That we will expect this child to grow into a person who will bear the light of Christ in the world.
That we will gather around the table and eat together even when we don’t agree
That we will fling open our doors to whomever dares enter and say to them, you are the center of God’s heart and we will learn to love you just as God loves us.

That we will believe and have the courage the believe that our own lives are being transformed into a better version of who we are through the love and grace of God in our lives as a community of God.

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