Set Apart

Text: Romans 1:1
Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, (NRSV)

In the United Methodist Church, as with many other denominations, when you officially join the church as an adult, you make an affirmation of your faith in front of the body of believers.  As part of this affirmation you agree to the statement, “Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior, put your whole trust in his grace, and promise to serve him as your Lord…?”

The understanding of this affirmation is that you have turned your life over to Jesus and his will for you.  As Lord, Jesus is now in the driver’s seat of your life—on the throne of your heart.  If you were still on the throne of your heart, then your agenda would take top priority.  Having Jesus sitting on the throne of your heart means that Jesus’ priorities are of first concern for you.

Paul expressed this as being “set apart for the gospel of God”.  The word gospel literally means “good news” or “good story”.  Paul believed that the agenda of Jesus was for him to express the good news or the good story of God’s love for all humanity as seen in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  Paul used his life to tell the story and to bring others into a relationship with the Father through the story of the Son.

Have you made the confession that Jesus Christ is your Savior?  Have you put your whole trust in his grace?  Have you promised to serve Jesus as your Lord?  If so, your life has also been set apart for the gospel of God.  Your agenda is Jesus’ agenda to live in such a way that the good news—the good story of God’s love as expressed in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, is evident in all you say and do.  You are set apart to be a living witness of God’s love, grace, and forgiveness.

Each morning as you awake and begin your day, determine in your spirit how you will express this love of God to those you encounter throughout the day.  Each night as you lay your head to rest, recount in your mind how God’s love was or was not expressed in each and every encounter of your day.  Thank God for the times when you were faithful to Jesus’ agenda and ask for forgiveness and the strength and courage to improve when Jesus’ agenda took second place to your own desires and responses.

Pray with me:

Jesus, you are my Savior and my Lord.  Set me apart for the telling of your good news of God’s love, grace, and forgiveness.  May each of my encounters with others tell your gospel.  AMEN.

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