Teaching Series
Followers of Jesus
Monday—In the Church

Series: Followers of Jesus
Message: In the Church
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Mark Witas
Live Wonder: Jessyka Albert
Live Adventure: Jessyka Albert
Live Purpose: Kyle Smith
Editor: Becky De Oliveira

Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.

Read: Romans 12:1-21 in the New Living Translation (NLT). Note 1–3 insights or questions. 

Reflect: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2)

About a year ago, we had some visitors come to church. They were there because their daughter played in our college orchestra. During church service, a group of students led out in some contemporary praise songs. The instruments included guitars and some percussion. The music was tastefully done and most folks were blessed by the experience.

After the service, this visiting couple caught me in the sanctuary and laid into me over the students’ music. “Why would you ruin a great church service with that worldly music?” they vented.

Their question caught me off guard. Worldly? What made that music “worldly” but the organ music played during the postlude/prelude “heavenly?” Seriously. What’s the difference? All the instruments used were made in this world. All of them were played as instruments of praise to Jesus. All the songs were written by people who intended to praise their Maker with music. Yet all the songs were written by people who do live in this world. Is something worldly because it’s recent? If that’s true then I’m driving a very worldly Subaru.

What I’ve determined is this: things are “worldly” when we don’t like them or don’t understand them or are afraid of them, and things are “heavenly” when we do like them, are comfortable with them, and are not afraid of them. In other words, “worldliness” is kind of subjective.

Unless you let Paul or Jesus or the Bible define “worldliness.” Then it’s pretty specific.

Worldliness, according to the Bible, has to do with pride, selfish ambition, greed, malice, slander, unkindness, roughhousing, demeaning others with our language, sexual looseness, alcohol abuse . . . the list goes on. But it’s pretty clear that being worldly has nothing to do with a style of music, what version of the Bible we prefer, or who’s wearing what to church on a particular Sabbath.

Recalibrate: In your determination, what would make music “worldly” verses “sacred”?

Respond: Ask the Lord to show you how to live in the world but not be of the world.

Research: Check out this article on the divide between the secular and the sacred.

Remember: “Love must be real. Hate what is evil; stick fast to what is good” (Romans 12:9, KNT).

Mark Witas is the lead pastor at Pacific Union College Church in Angwin, CA. Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Mark has served as a youth pastor, Bible teacher, college and academy chaplain, and lead pastor in the United States and Canada for the last 33 years. He has also authored four books: Born Chosen, Live Out Loud, Portals, and Just Jesus.

Give your child something you are comfortable with them molding. If they are little, it could be a squishy ball or toy. If they are a bit older, it could be Play-Doh. Let them squish and mold whatever it might be. Read Romans 11:2: “Do not be shaped by this world. Instead be changed within by a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to decide what God wants for you. And you will be able to know what is good and pleasing to God and what is perfect.” Whom do you want to mold and shape your child’s heart and mind? Always point them to Jesus. Model Jesus shaping and molding your own life.

Ask your parents for help making sugar cookies today! If you don’t have the ingredients for sugar cookies, make some with Play-Doh. Roll out the dough and then use a cookie cutter to make the shape of the cookie. If you were a cookie, what shape do you think God would choose for you to be? Paul tells us in the book of Romans to not be shaped by this world, but to be shaped by God. Why do you think he says that? Do you trust God to shape you? Eat a cookie and remember how sweet God’s love is and that He wants you to be the best you there ever was!

Have you ever been told not to hate someone? My whole life I have been told not to use the word “hate.” You can dislike something, but to hate, well, that is just going too far. Yet, as I look at our verse to remember this week, I am left with this realization: God calls us to hate evil. Do you know that God actually hates evil? He can’t stand it! But here is the thing about God: He may hate what is evil, He may even call us to hate what it evil, but He never calls us to hate others. God has this incredible ability to separate sin and the person sinning. This means He can hate what someone does, but love the person with all of His heart. I live in Kansas City, not too far from the town where Westboro Baptist Church is located (Topeka, Kansas). This church prides itself on being hateful. Its members picket weddings, funerals, and graduations. They stand on street corners spreading the hate of God toward “sinners.” So many people have been turned away from God because of their hurtful words. Friend, I encourage you today by saying that God does not hate you. He never has and He never will. Jesus loves you so much. May each of us learn to hate what is evil, but never to hate God’s people in the process.

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