God's good will

"...so that you would experience what is God's good will, enjoyable and perfect" (Romans 12:2b).

Of all the Pauline epistles, the Epistle to the Romans is the most logical and orderly. In it are systematically developed the main topics of Christian doctrine. It begins with sinful man, destitute of the glory of God, and leaves him in the midst of the church, attaining to the perfection of Christ.

Until chapter 8 there is an exposition centered on the individual experience of the believer. Then, in chapter 12 (after the parenthesis about Israel in chapters 9 to 11, we begin with something else, a different focus of Christian life.

To prepare the way of what this new focus will be, Paul begins saying that it is necessary to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice and that it is necessary to be transformed through the renovation of the understanding, to be able to verify what is God's good will. In other words, before understanding what is to be presented, it is necessary to experience God's help in regards to His way of thinking. What is that?

It is nothing less than the matter of church. Therefore, in the final chapters of Romans we are told about the church. That is why Paul continues in chapter 12 stating: "I therefore say, by the grace that is given to me, to each one that is among you, not to have a higher concept of himself than he ought, but to think about himself wisely, according to the measure of faith that God allotted to each one" (verse 3). This means that, to experience church life, we must reeducate our concept about ourselves. It is necessary to come down from our high self-esteem.

The church is the place where we cease to be individuals and come to only be members of the Body. It is the ambiance where I, me, self, our ego, is crucified; where personal ambitions die, where individualism is broken. Paul continues saying: "As in a body we have many members, but not every member has the same function, being many, we are one body in Christ, and we are all members one of another" (12:4-5).

Not only each of us is merely one member, but also, each one has only one function. In other words, pretending greatness, being the central figure, all come tumbling down to ground level. From individuals, we come to be members; from a "one-man-orchestra" we become men that acknowledge their limitations and have only one function.

"God's good will" for us is that we form part of the church, that we would live the church life, because it is there that man decreases and Christ increases. In the church, the old man is judged and the new man is strengthened. May the Lord enable all of us who desire to please the Lord, to live the wonderful (and also painful) experience of only being a member of His Body.

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