I appeal to you, Cities Church, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
Let love be genuine.
Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.
Love one another with brotherly affection.
Outdo one another in showing honor.
Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
Live in harmony with one another.
Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.
Never be wise in your own sight.
Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Prayer of Confession
Your love is perfectly genuine. You always abhor evil and you are the standard by which “good” finds its definition. In unthinkable kindness, you have shown your affection for all humanity and have bestowed upon us unfathomable honor by creating us as the image bearers of your own glory.
As your people and as your church, our love is so often inward. We too often have ulterior, self-serving motives beneath our supposed selfless acts. Far too often, we are enticed by the things you have called evil and are seduced by the allure of power, prestige, and worldly fortune. We have a twisted-tendency to betray what we know to be good for the fleeting thrills of rebellion. And you know it all, God. You perfectly see our hypocrisy, both personally and corporately, this morning. You witness every time we despise our brothers and sisters. You could easily summon every instance where we have outdone one another in showing dishonor and disdain. You feel the heat of the rage that rises up in our hearts when we are crossed and you alone can calculate the full weight of the bitterness we harbor.
These things ought not be so. They are a great evil. And inasmuch as our attitudes and actions are antithetical to lives that are worthy of the gospel, we need your forgiveness and we need your Spirit’s intervention. Father, we know that if we in your church regard sin within our own hearts, our prayers will be ineffectual, so by your Spirit search us and reveal our secret sin as we silently confess before you, now:
Father, we thank you for Jesus, the only one who never sinned and yet, in our place, bore your full wrath upon our sin himself so that we could be free from sin’s penalty and punishment that we rightly deserved. This is amazing grace, O God. And by your grace would you now, in greater measure, fan into flame our affections for Jesus so that we are consumed with a desire to know him and be like him so that wherever we go we might make him known.
We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.