April 23, 2010 § Leave a Comment
I have two books on the New Testament church: Going to Church in the First Century by Robert Banks and Orthodox Worship: A Living Continuity with the Temple, the Synagogue, and the Early Church by Williams and Anstall. Both claim to describe how the early Christians worshiped, and both couldn’t be more different from one another.
Banks’ description sounds like the first century version of a back yard cookout. No leaders, no structure. Williams and Anstall describe highly liturgical and hierarchical worship. Both claim that their books are based on extensive research, though only Williams and Anstall cite sources.
In our search to worship like the New Testament Church, the Nicosia International Church is turning to Romans 12. Paul says, ‘Present your bodies as a living sacrifice … this is your reasonable service.’ Worship is a way of living more than a way of gathering, though Paul teaches us that its impossible to live a worshipful life alone. We need each other.
Here’s how we’re unpacking it this Sunday:
- How we relate to God (12:1)
- How we relate to ourselves (12:2-3)
- How we relate to our brothers and sisters (12:4-8)
- How we relate to the world (12:9-21)
A life of worship is only possible because the Father has already given us Jesus (Romans 5) and the Holy Spirit (Romans 8). It is by his mercy (12:1) that we can become the New Testament Church described here.
One thing that struck me is the use of the mind in this chapter. Worship is described as ‘reasonable’ (12:1), which is the English translations of the Greek logikos, from which we get logical. Our worship is rational (12:1), our minds are renewed (12:2), and we think soberly (12:3).
Our culture often wants to pit the mind against the spirit, the spiritual against the rational. But Paul tells us to worship and live with a rationality that is open to include truth that is unseen (see Hebrews 11:1-3). Christian rationality is broader than a worldview that only includes the material world.
Just some thoughts as I prepare for Sunday …