Present your life before God as an offering
Alan Scott, a leader of Causeway Coast Vineyard Church in Coleraine, North Ireland gave a talk on Romans12 at the Catalyst Festival in May 2016 on Christianity in the Marketplace.
Here are some quotes from the talk:
"Romans 12. It is written by a man who's utterly captivated by Jesus. His life has been radically transformed. He's been given not only a new nature, but he's been given a new name. His name has been transformed because God has, not only delivered him from his past, but God has released him into the future. The Kingdom comes in our life not only to break us out of something but to bring us into something. That God has more for you today than simply transforming your history. His desire is to open your destiny. This man Paul has captured all of that and it's filling his life and he's trying to write about how God through Christ is reconciling all things to himself, and he's begun to exclaim that and proclaim that.
"In chapter 11, he says, "..who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counsellor. Or who has ever given to God, that God should repay him for from him, and through him, and for him are all things." Everything, everywhere belongs to him. There's not a city that doesn't belong to him. There's not an industry that doesn't belong to him. There's not a family that doesn't belong to him. There's not a university that doesn't belong to him. All things come under one head, even Christ, and are presented to God the Father. The Father has made a promise to the Son and He said this, "Sit down Son until your enemies become your footstool."
"He begins in Romans 12. Are you ready? He says, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy." He has this view of mercy that is utterly expansive. He has a view of mercy for the banking industry. He has a view for architecture. He has a view of mercy for dentistry. He has a view of mercy for justice. He has a view of mercy that goes beyond individuals. I don't know it happened, but somehow we've relegated mercy to something that happens as salvation as through mercy was only for individuals.
"God's view of mercy is so much bigger than transformation of individuals. It's transformation of cities. Paul says, "In view of God's mercy, take your everyday, ordinary life, your eating, sleeping, going-to-work life and present it before God as an offering." Take that life, the monotony of life, the predictability of life. The life that kicks in when you leave this building. Take that life, the walking your dogs that are driving you up the wall life, the taking your kids to school life, take that everyday ordinary life. That work that you do, take that and present it before God as an offering.
"Do you want to change culture? Do you want to change cities? It doesn't happen in gathered environments like this? It never happens in gathered environments like this. It's usually in places like our workplaces that often we feel are places of absence. You don't take God to work in the morning. God is waiting at your work saying, "Let's get started." Right? He's already there. You're not bringing the kingdom to your workplace, you're just showing up where the kingdom is already at work. It's already at work. God isn't limited to the church. He's already doing that. He says, "Take your everyday, your ordinary life, present it before God as an offering."
"Biblical discipleship is becoming bold enough to transform culture. The days are coming when we say to our young people going into university: Listen, you have been faithful in your school. You have done a great job releasing the kingdom in the school. Now the father is entrusting you with much more. You're going to greater place, a greater platform. The question is not, 'will your faith survive philosophy or the university?', the question is, 'will your university survive your faith?'. Never, never, never gather young people and begin to describe the terrors that await at university as though temptation was greater than transformation. One Christian on a campus is enough to transform the whole campus - with the living Christ in them everything becomes available.
"So it is with every believer. What you carry is enough to transform everything around you as long as you don't conform and are not intimated by culture. For years, the church has lived intimated by culture. Our task is to reveal divine design and to release power. We began to understand we can't just avoid culture, we can't abandon the fashion industry and media and filmmaking. We can't abandon those things. We have to alter those things.
"If God has called you to be an artist, for God's sake, be an artist, but don't hide it in church. Take it to the city. Do an art exhibition in your city. Release it in your city. I have a girl in my church, she said, 'God has called me to dance.' I said, 'We don't do that here.' She said, 'You don't?' But God has called me.' She had this look in her face like, 'are you going to squash God's calling in my life?'. "Are you going to be a controlling leader?". I said, 'Are you telling me God has called you to dance?' She said, 'God has called me to dance.' I said, 'Well, if God has called you to dance, why would you settle for a like six foot stage on a Sunday? If the living God has really called you to dance, why don't you go into the community and set up dance schools for kids?' She was so mad at me. Today she has a dance school for kids and the waiting list is as long as your arm.
"What we've done is we've separated these things and we put them in church world. We've just copied the culture and brought it into the church. That was never what we're supposed to do. God gave the Church to reveal his kingdom to the culture at large, not to reflect the culture at large.We can never impress our cities into life, but our brokenness might just attract them to Jesus. It's your everyday ordinary. Your failures, your struggles, your passions, all that. It's the everyday ordinary in your workplace that wins people to Jesus.
"Sadly we've been communicating a message that we haven't meant to communicate. We see it often when young people are going to university. They will take the young man who's going after theological college and they will pray for him at the front and they will commission them. Or they will take the church planter and they will pray for him at the front and they will commission them. Then the young man will go off to college, study theology and at the end of the first semester, at the end of the first term, they'll bring them back and they'll have them speak about what he's learned. They might even have him pray. Meanwhile, the young girl who's gone off to study journalism is sitting there thinking, 'My calling has no value in the kingdom of God whatsoever. Nobody's ever entertained me. Nobody supported me. Nobody's given me money. Nobody's prayed for me.'. Really what they're saying is, if you study the Bible that's the best thing you could ever do at college, but if you are going to write stories that people are actually going to read in journalism, that's a waste of your life. That's the subtle message that we've been communicating to the young people.
"I want to declare to you today that the days are coming when we don't only ordain people at the front to become vicars and pastors, but we ordain architects and filmmakers, and sculptors, and educators, and poets, and people for every industry, everywhere as we again understand that the mercy of God is coming into you and it's already written over everything.
"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. We are those who illuminate the design and the destiny of everything around us and we share together the fragrance of Christ. We are no longer conforming to the pattern of this world, but we are beginning to transform by the renewing of our mind. We're beginning to release kingdom inventions and innovations. Any entrepreneurs here today? Any business leaders here? Oh, thank you so much. Thank you so much. If you haven't done this in your church, you should pray for business leaders. Here's what you're not praying. You're not praying their gift to the church. Don't you dare demean business in that way. Don't you dare make business just something that gives profit into the church. Business started in the mind of God. Business leaders are called for the glory of God. Their goal and their task and their heavenly assignment is not to supply what is lacking in the church, their heavenly assignment is to supply what is lacking in the earth."
And here is the video:
There are some tough challenges in this to rethink 'church'. I hope this provides some good material for you to think about and discuss with others.
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Geoff Knott, 17/08/2016