[Brad Pistole began the time dedicated to the sermon by administering (i.e., "walking the congregation through") the Congregational Family Needs Analysis (see last week's Sunday morning lesson). After the completion of the analysis, David Chadwell shared the following thoughts with the congregation.]

  1. Brad Pistole guided the congregation through the "Congregational Needs Analysis" (composed of 25 questions, 24 of which were multiple choice).

  2. After the completion of the survey, David spoke to the congregation.
    1. I hope you have your Bible handy and will turn in it to Romans 12. I want you to focus on an emphasis in the last section of Romans.
      1. Read these statements with me:
        Romans 12:3-5 For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
        Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor.
        Romans 12:15,16 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.
        Romans 14:1-4 Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
        Romans 15:7 Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.
      2. I challenge all of us to take a serious look at Paul's statements in these scriptures.
    2. General context of the letter of Romans.
      1. The majority of those Christians converted from first century Israel and its Judaism had a very difficult time relating to the Christians who were converted from idolatry.
      2. There were two primary reasons for them having such difficulty.
        1. These people were not Israelites--they had the wrong ancestry and the wrong religious background.
        2. Prior to conversion, many of these did not even know the living God, and some of their concepts were just plan strange to the Jewish devotee to Judaism.
    3. Specific context of chapters 12-15.
      1. Paul spent the majority of this letter declaring two points:
        1. God always intended His salvation to be for all nations, all people, regardless of their ancestry or culture.
        2. God through Christ and the work of His Spirit made this possible by His mercy and grace.
      2. If all of them [Christian Jew and Christian non-Jew] correctly understood what God did for them in Christ, they would start treating each other like members of the same community, members of the same family.

  3. Application: in the same way they failed, we are failing.
    1. We are losing, not because of God, but because of our very poor understanding of God's purposes.
      1. If people have physical needs, we do great. We do wonderfully well with physical challenges.
        1. We can help feed and pass out clothing in our inner city work, and that is good.
        2. We can give several thousand dollars to the starving people in Africa, and this is good.
        3. We can operate C.U.RE. and send medical supplies all over the world, and that is good.
      2. However, at the very same time we do horribly with people challenges.
        1. If a person is hungry, we know how to help, but if a person is struggling with internal turmoil or relationships we have no idea of what to do.
        2. To struggling people, including struggling Christians, our most common answer is, "You should not be having that problem."
        3. So we are surrounded by the pain and suffering of struggling people, and basically what we teach people in the church to do is hide it.
    2. This problem is as old as Christianity; not as old as Jesus, but as old as the primitive church.
      1. The cure that Paul said addressed the situation among Christians in Rome very much is the cure we Christians need right now.
      2. The cure is closeness, knowing, encouraging, and helping each other.

Being a religion is not enough. Being a community of believers who trust the God who sent Jesus to be our Christ is the only thing that will fulfill God's purpose.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 6 October 2002
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