"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing, and perfect will."
It is good to study the Scripture in its context. So for the next couple of blogs we will study the twelfth chapter of Romans to gain new insights into God's truth. Paul begins this portion of his letter by urging us to remember God's sacrificial love and mercy towards us. "In view of God's mercy"…To show us mercy, Christ stepped out of heaven and took on the form of man and lived on earth bound with the limitations of a human body to demonstrate the love of His Heavenly Father to a lost and dying world. He demonstrated God's love through His powerful words, His tireless actions, His bold confrontations, His tenderhearted-compassion, His miracles, His prayers, and His teaching. He demonstrated it in His humility, choosing to wash His disciple's feet. He demonstrated His love in the Garden of Gethsemane, wrestling with His Father's will and choosing to submit to it. He demonstrated the Father's mercy, dying a sinner's shameful death though He had lived a sinless life.
Next He encourages us to respond to God's love with worship. But it is not simply singing praise songs. He defined reasonable worship as living sacrificially for God. This worship was to live out a commitment of renewing our minds in God's word and letting Him change us from the inside out as we discern what His good and perfect will is. What does it mean to live sacrificially? It means giving up our will and to do the Father's just as Christ did in the Garden. It means sacrificing our pride and choosing to esteem others better than ourselves. It means serving one another, using the spiritual gifts the Holy Spirit gave us. It means refusing to let our emotions rule what we choose to do, tuning into other's needs as we let God fill us with passions that give us a zeal for Him and His work. It is giving up the right for revenge and being used an instrument of loving forgiveness. In fact, until today Offering ourselves as a living sacrifice is knitted to loving as Christ loved.
Will being a living Sacrifice be easy? NO WAY! We'll often find ourselves wanting to crawl off the altar to return to the familiarity of our old way of life. However, because of God's mercy in nailing each and every sin we have committed to the cross, we can and should be willing to die to ourselves on a daily basis. That requires we daily choose to live humbly and choose to be submissive to our Creator. It is easy to think one act of obedience or disobedience does not matter in the realm of a lifetime, but it does. Christ's one act of choosing to submit to His heavenly Father reconciled each of us to God for all eternity. His act bought our forgiveness. His act one translated us from the kingdom of darkness into God's glorious Kingdom of light! We have no way of knowing what each act of obedience, submission, or dying to self will achieve in the light of eternity; only God knows the full impact of our choices.
In light of God's love, in light of His sacrifice, in light of His mercy, in light of Christ's humility, isn't it worth laying aside our pride and our rights at His feet and saying to Him, "I am yours, use me as you will?"
Prayer: Father, Your mercy is overwhelming when I pause and reflect on my life and the sin that is obvious and the sin that is hidden in the recesses of my heart. It is hard to comprehend a love that is so sacrificial that You would love me and send Christ to die for me knowing me as You do. As each of us spends time in your word, please burn it into our hearts and our minds. Transform us from the inside out so that we can truly live sacrificial lives that are a reflection of the death You died for us. Let us die to pride, selfishness, our own dreams and desires, and let us live to Your perfect will. Increase our ability to understand and apply your Word so that we can truly reflect your love to those around us. Father, please help each of us to understand what it means to truly be a living Sacrifice, made holy and pleasing by the Blood of your dear Son. Use us in the worlds we live in…home, church, school, and work…to be a picture of your perfect Son.Amen.