Therefore Discipleship
Tuesday, July 13, 2010

 

“Therefore” (Romans 12:1)

                How many times have you heard a child, a friend, a business associate, or even a fellow church member ask the question, “What’s wrong with that?”  What is wrong with that movie?  What is wrong with that behavior?  What is wrong with that book?  What is wrong with that contract?  These are things that are popularly accepted, so nothing must be wrong with them.  And for the most part, modern parents, modern business practices, modern social relationships, and even modern churches teach from the standpoint of judging right and wrong based on standards that have nothing to do with God.  But I want to challenge this morning that the reason we have those questions asked, is that we live with the wrong “therefore” in our lives.

                From a legal standpoint, most proclamations and contracts begin with a series of “whereas” clauses.  And the “therefore” of the proclamation or contract is based upon those whereas clauses.  Whereas we want to form a more perfect union, we therefore establish a government with checks and balances.  Whereas Jim and Paula are in love, therefore they get married.  “Therefore” is a powerful word that defines the whereas questions by which our lives are defined.  Whereas, some grew up believing that sex outside of marriage was permissible, “therefore” they live accordingly.  Whereas some teach their children in government schools that condoms are a protection from disease and unwanted pregnancy, “therefore” some have children practice sexual behavior that is not permitted by God’s law and they see nothing wrong with it.  Whereas some build their businesses on unscrupulous or marginal practices, “therefore” they have businesses that must be regulated by the government (which probably needs to be regulated more than the businesses they regulate).  Whereas some couples practice love with their spouses based on what the spouse can give them, “therefore” when they no longer give those things they fall out of love.  Whereas culturally we teach, even in some churches, that all religions are equal in God’s eyes, “therefore” Christianity with its exclusive claims has fallen on bad times.  The list goes on and on, but you get the idea.  The “whereas” platforms upon which we stand are the beliefs that guide our lives, and “therefore” the results  will follow.

                All this is to say that Paul practiced a “therefore kind of discipleship,” built upon substantial “whereas” clauses that defined a very different outcome.  His whereas clauses were always built upon great gifts and actions of God, now therefore we should act accordingly.  Romans 12:1 and Ephesians 4:1 are perfect examples of this.  The first 11 chapters of Romans are spent by Paul telling us the great “whereas” clauses upon which our faith is built.  Whereas, “the gospel is the power of God unto salvation;” whereas, “the righteousness of God is revealed by faith;” whereas, “a man is justified by faith, apart from observing the law;” whereas, “the promises of God come by faith and are a guarantee;” whereas, “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us;” whereas, “just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life;” whereas, “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord;” whereas, “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus;” whereas, “if God is for you, who can be against you;” whereas, “nothing can separate us from God through the love of Christ Jesus;” whereas, “we are more than conquerors;” whereas, “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;” and whereas, “from Him and through Him and to Him are all things;”  “therefore” make your bodies living sacrifices, that is your spiritual act of worship.

                You see what Paul understood, and what we have long forgotten, is that when the whereas of our life is the promises of God, the therefore of our lives will be quite different.  In plain language, the outcome of our lives is based upon the principles we have lived by.  For some reason the church has forgotten the importance of the whereas, and thus the therefore is getting a very undesirable result.  Whereas we teach the importance of humanity, therefore we diminish the importance of God.  Before you take offense to that statement, understand, the opposite is truer.  Whereas we teach the importance of God, therefore the importance of humanity increases.  That was Paul’s point in almost every letter.  Whereas God has done magnificent things for us in Christ Jesus, therefore, as an act of worship, submit yourselves to Him.

                Discipleship is still taught in some churches, but seldom is the foundation of discipleship a focus on what God has done for us in Christ Jesus.  And the result is a church with a divorce rate equal to the secular world; a church that spends much of its resources each year arguing about sexual practices of pastors and priests; a church that believes feeding the body is more important that saving the soul; a church that prays more for its sick than it does for its God; a church which raises money by guilt, instead of creating worshipers who give out of love; a church which welcomes all religions, even when those religions condemn their people to hell; a church which no longer teaches hell; etc. etc.  When discipleship is based on a watered down “whereas” of human teachings, the results will be a church with a watered down therefore.  Instead of the clarion call of the church being “make your bodies living sacrifices,” it has become “try a little harder to do a little better.” 


Kingdom Road Ministries
PO Box 503
10 South Main, Suite 201
Victor, ID 83455
903-262-5088
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