Yesterday we finished a 4-week series at The Belfrey called Love the body You’re In. It’s been all about the quality of relationships. It’s helped me see with fresh insight that disciples are called to invest not only in their relationship with God but with others too. Disciples are called to put God first and then to ‘honour one another above yourselves’ (Romans 12:10). To do this requires a mind-set shift. Let me explain.
When a couple get together and begin a relationship it often starts – to be totally honest – for selfish reasons. They pursue each other for what they can get out of it: love, security, affection, friendship, affirmation, etc.. But if the relationship is going to thrive then there needs to be a mind-set shift in the couple so their thinking changes from ‘how can this relationship help and please me?’ to ‘how can I help and please them?’ It becomes about giving rather than getting. That’s a mature relationship – a true love relationship. A relationship that will last. And of course if both give, both end up receiving!
It’s the same in other kind of relationships, including relationships in the body of Christ. Many join a church for what they can get out of it. They like the style of worship, the programmes, the kids work, the people, etc.. But to thrive in church-life there similarly needs to be a mind-set shift so our thinking changes from ‘how can this help and please me?’ to ‘how can I help and please others?’ It becomes about giving rather than getting. When church is full of people like that, that is a mature church. And of course if everyone gives, everyone receives!
This sounds great, but it’s difficult.
It’s difficult partly because we’re so shaped by the individualistic culture in which we live. Many of us have such a me-centred mind-set that we don’t see the selfishness behind much of our decision-making. We find it hard to perceive the consumerist mentality that dominates. But unless it named, exposed and changed we won’t really be able to Love the Body We’re In.
And it’s also difficult because there’s an enemy who wants us to live self-centred lives. He wants to keep us constrained in please-me cages. He hates to see generosity, kindness, forgiveness and humility embodied in a people. Because those kind of people will change the world.
But this kind of mind-set shift is not difficult for the Spirit of God. It’s easy for him if he can find a people who are willing. Romans 12:2 describes this mind-shift as ‘the renewing of your mind’. How does it happen? Romans 12:1 tell us it happens as people live in the light of the cross of Christ, ‘offering yourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.’ It happens to a people who dedicate themselves to the Lord. A people willing to sacrifice and surrender.
If you really want to Love the Body You’re In, surrender to God and ask for your mind to be renewed. It’s not about you. It’s about loving God and loving others.