In 1954, the psychologist James Olds made a few ordinary rats the happiest rodents that had
ever lived. How?
He had directly wired an electrode into the rats’ brains, plugging into the septal area. The rats
seemed to enjoy it, so Olds gave them a lever: when pushed, it would turn on the electrode. The
rats quickly learned how it worked, and they had a fantastic time with it. Some of the rats would
giddily push the lever 2,000 times per hour for 24 hours straight.
Recently, scientists began to apply this research to human beings. Through non-invasive
means, they have found how to stimulate this region of our brains. How? It happens through
the presence (or simulated presence) of another person and the sounds of their movement and
voice. It requires an “emotional element,” which leaves the viewer feeling “safe, and warm, and
Good News! Long before researchers discovered this, God the Grand Designer provided it.
How? That’s the Message of the Bible, summarized in the book of Romans.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ
died for us.” (Romans 5:8, New International Version)
In other words, the power for Christian living comes from the Mercy of our Maker. It’s the source
of strength for living the life God has designed for you and me. And this design is described in
Romans chapter 12. I call it the great THEREFORE. This comes from the first few words of
verse 1:
“THEREFORE, in view of God’s mercy….”
Romans chapter 12 goes on to summarize what God’s design entails. In other words, what
does God’s great love produce? It’s nothing mysterious, nothing magical. In fact, it’s both
logical and intuitive. In a word, Love. Great love begets great love. It’s what empowers us to
fulfill what Jesus called the Great Commandment taught to us by Jesus:
‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your
strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Luke 10:27)
What does it mean to be a Christian? Ask anyone you meet, and you’ll probably get a different
answer every time. But God gives us an answer in one chapter: Romans 12.
For the first four weeks of 2023, we are learning so that we might live into God’s purpose and be
a part of his grand plan in my sermon series entitled, THEREFORE!
Pastor Ryan

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