The Church Jesus Is Building – Part Forty-Eight

The apostle to the gentiles, in his letter to the Romans, offers guidance in seven areas of life as seen in the life of a revolutionary: spiritual practices, personal faith, perspective on life, attitude, character, relationships, and behaviour. We looked at the first four over the past few days…

1> Spiritual practices 

2> Personal faith

3> Perspective on life 

4> Attitude

5> Character

Jesus majored on the character traits of His twelve disciples. Paul picks up the baton and drills home the evidence of revolutionary character. Integrity is a must-have quality: honesty, reliability, and trustworthiness are hallmarks he describes for the Romans. These characteristics make a change agent honourable.

Humility is a big issue for revolutionaries. We have no grounds for arrogance; we are lowly sinners incapable of earning salvation according to the rules. Knowing who and what we are, in comparison to the standard set by Jesus, should help us stay realistic.

Empathy is another trait Paul singles out as critical. If we are to be lovers of God and humankind, it will be hard to accomplish that goal without warmth and compassion. 

6> Relationships

Revolutionaries are to be known by their excessive love for God and people. Once again, consistently following through on this is one tall order. How can we do it?

Paul recommends that we aggressively look for opportunities to bless people. He suggests that we strive for peace and harmony with them, which we can facilitate by avoiding senseless arguments. He also moves us to realize that we need each other for the fabric of the Kingdom to be complete (see Romans 12). A team player mentality fosters loving relationships, rather than competitive or jealous interaction.

It is important to see that Paul also highlights the special responsibility revolutionaries have to each other. They are to seek unity with each other and always honour others. If we are to be the model for the world, what people see when they watch us together must reflect the affection and spiritual attachment we have for one another. 

7> Behaviour

The revolutionary lifestyle might be summarized as clean and productive.

Look at what Paul writes about the transformational life. He calls the believers to holiness, for goodness’ sake (see Romans 12:1). We know that God alone is holy and that Jesus’ death and resurrection on our behalf gives us the spiritual holiness to be with God in Heaven, but in the meantime we are challenged to live an ever more pure and perfect life as evidence of our cooperation with the Holy Spirit who lives within us. Obedience to God’s standards, motivated by our gratitude and desire to please Him, is crucial in this pursuit of the holy life. Paul points out that this effort should result in our being respectable representatives of the Kingdom. 

The clean nature of our lives is certainly associated with how we think. We are prompted to scrutinize our thoughts in order to resist those that dishonour God. Revolutionaries are also encouraged to rely upon a “transformed” mind; because our actions flow from our thoughts, we must think like a transformed human being if we hope to act like one

The changed mind of the revolutionary will produce different lifestyle choices. Working hard, producing good deeds, and avoiding debt are examples of the productive life that emerges from an intense commitment to God. 

Do you want to determined if someone is a revolutionary? Look at the characteristics Paul list in Romans, and compare them to the person in question. Even under the best circumstances, you will never find a perfect, 100 percent match. But as you examine the life of a genuine revolutionary, you will notice that he or she is different from the pack.

Did you notice the overlap between Paul’s instructions and the spiritual passions of the revolutionary we looked at in this series a few weeks ago? Paul hits them head-on: genuine worship, fearless outreach, consistent spiritual growth, wise investment of resources, opportunistic servanthood, and meaningful spiritual relationships.

How do you fare in relations to these attributes?