I heard a story of a man who, walking down the street, passed a used-book store. As he was passing by, he saw a book, through the window entitled, How to Hug. He thought it might be an interesting book, so he went in to buy it. He was disappointed to find out that it was actually a volume of an encyclopedia covering subjects beginning with the words “How” through “Hug” (How to Hug, get it?
Sorry. It was supposed to make you chuckle). Anyway, that is the way the church is sometimes. He are guilty of giving people an encyclopedia on theology instead of giving them a practical demonstration of how to live out true Christianity. The church needs to be a place where people can see faith in action. It needs to be a place where people can experience the benefits of real love and acceptance. It needs to be a place where people can see a living demonstration of the grace of God.
This portion of Paul’s letter deals with the practical application of our Christian faith. We can see several areas where grace affects the Christian. Paul challenges us to flesh out our theology in everyday living. Think of it as a continuation of the message we just read. Paul was sharing how the church is a multi-membered, multi-gifted body of believers, who are bound together in a mystical union with one another and with Jesus Christ, joined together in a living, dynamic relationship in which every member is important, and every member is needed.
Oh, I realize that might be a mouthful, but because we were placed in the Body and gifted by Jesus Christ, we have a definite responsibility to every other member of the body of Christ, and more particularly, to the local church where he has placed us. That responsibility is to exercise the gifts and ministries God has given us. As we do so, we will accomplish the Kingdom work through the ministry of the church to the glory of God.
The message here is that we not only have a responsibility in the exercise of these gifts, but we also have a responsibility in the exercise of grace, a responsibility to love by grace.
God’s grace is not only extended to us, but is to be ministered through us, both to our brothers and sisters in the church, and to those in the world. The point is that grace has an effect on us. It not only has an effect on us, but it should affect our behavior.
If interested, you can download the entire study of The Letter to Christians at Rome