Our sign at the corner of Main and Garrett now says “You Are Invited!” I want you to know that you are truly invited to worship with us. We may not have the newest trends in worship or the largest congregation, but we do have one important thing: We are committed to our Savior and to learning to be more like Christ.
Speaking of visiting, you are invited to celebrate “Back to School and Homecoming Sunday” with us on August 26. Former members, relatives, and others in the community are invited to celebrate with us as we rekindle friendships and look to the future. We will recognize members of our educational community in our worship service at 11 a.m., and immediately following the service we will gather on the grounds and in the fellowship hall for a picnic. There will be games and prizes for the children, too.
I started last week’s study on Romans 12 with some homespun wisdom. I’d like to share a few more, by courtesy of a compilation loaned to me by Benton King Wilson.
- Diplomacy is the art of letting someone else have your own way.
- Time may be a great healer, but it isn’t much of a beautician.
- An unbiased person is one who has the same bias you have.
- Worry must help! What I worry about rarely happens.
- A yawn may not be polite, but at least it is an honest opinion.
- A reformer is someone who insists upon his conscience being your guide.
- Speak well of your enemies; after all, you made them.
- Some people use Christianity like a bus; they ride on it only when it is going their way.
- And finally: The trouble with some people is that when you ask them how they feel, they proceed to tell you!
The culture in Roman was one of decadence, power, and idol worship. And yet individuals were continually being added to the church. Paul wrote to give them instruction for living. In “Finding Peace with People,” we are looking at Paul’s instructions in Romans 12:9-21. Today we look at verse 11: “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.”
Many years ago a Sunday school class was studying the life of faith. One person commented: “It’s all right to talk about your faith, but you don’t have to be one of those fanatics.” “What is a fanatic?” I asked. She proceeded to say, someone who always talks about God, tells people that they need to change, is always quoting the Bible, who carries their Bible around with them, and who prays with people no matter where they are. “So,” I inferred, “You wouldn’t be comfortable with Jesus, Paul, or Peter attending this church?”
Young Christians, in their “newborn” zeal, often do strange things, but that is more immaturity than zeal. We can maintain true zeal, spiritual excitement, by staying filled with God’s Spirit through a vital, living relationship. As we mature in faith we can find a way to keep that enthusiasm by “serving the Lord.” This reminds me of a saying: Some church members are like wheelbarrows: They only go when they are pushed.
Do you need to be “pushed” to service, or are you willing to be used by God? To paraphrase a former president, “Ask not what your God can do for you. Ask what you can do for your God.” How often do we pray for our needs (and wants), and even for world peace, but forget to ask what God wants us to do.
Paul commands us to keep our spiritual fervor. Remember the place where God found you and so serve God in thankfulness and joy. Find something to do at church, even if it means volunteering to pull weeds, sending birthday cards, making phone calls, or (gasp!) praying for others. When someone asks you why, you can tell them, “Because God loved me so much, I wanted to give something back.” Simple answer. No one could call you a fanatic!
There are many ways to serve the Lord, and not all of them are in the church. You can volunteer at the nursing home or at the school. Perhaps you could help with Meals on Wheels or serve in an after school program so kids don’t have to go home alone. Find a way to give of yourself so others can see the work God is doing in you.
Remember the reason you are serving, however, or your might lose your zeal. In the 17th century, a lay brother known as Brother Lawrence, worked in the kitchen for most of his life, and repaired sandals after that. Though he had such a lowly position, his peace and wisdom attracted many. The wisdom he shared, in conversations and letters, became the book, The Practice of the Presence of God. He asked, “Is it not quicker and easier just to do our common business wholly for the love of [God]?” This “common business,” the things we do in the regular course of our lives is how we experience God’s love.
“Nor is it needful that we should have great things to do. . . We can do little things for God; I turn the cake that is frying on the pan for love of him, and that done, if there is nothing else to call me, I prostrate myself in worship before him, who has given me grace to work.”
Why do you work? Why do you help others? Let it be for that zeal inspired by God’s love. Keep your spiritual life alive by doing everything, even the most mundane activities, out of gratitude and love for the One who first loved you. Serve the Lord with gladness, as the Psalmist commands, and you will find peace with people. Next week: A few ways to keep your spiritual fervor burning.
Pastor Mary Kay Glunt