A Living Sacrifice
Mighty God, with all that lies within me I today acclaim Your goodness and speak Your praise. Now, I want to learn from You.
Read Romans 12:1-8
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“Christ … gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Eph. 5:2). One can spend a lifetime trying to fully understand the sacrifice he requires in return.
The first verses of this chapter hold a wealth of meaning. “Therefore” looks back to all that Paul has written of God’s mercies in Christ. Now the people of God—”brothers and sisters,” Jew and Greek, rich and poor, children together of one heavenly Father—are urged by Paul to radical, sacrificial, ongoing transformation of body and mind. That active, living sacrifice arises from gratitude for all that the Lord has done. The call is radical, challenging the division between the spiritual and the physical that has plagued Christian theology, as if God is only interested in the soul. It’s a call to a reasonable and intelligent offering of our whole selves, body and mind, for our whole lives; it’s a conscious intent to be transformed in our thinking, our working, our relationships, in the power of the Spirit.
Now we begin to see our world and ourselves with different eyes—a world where we serve our Lord and other people, supported and nourished by Christ. The implications for our daily lives are huge; in vs. 3-8 Paul begins to spell them out. It is important for 21st-century readers with a strong sense of individual autonomy to recognize the deeply communal aspects of New Testament teaching about the church. Paul emphasizes that we are one body in Christ and individually members of one another. Paul calls his readers to the sober humility of self-awareness, avoiding pride in status, intellect, religious piety, or even pride in children and material possessions. These attitudes can make churches oppressive for the poor, the handicapped, the single, and for new Christians who know very little about their new faith. So the gifts are different, and cheerful, generous service is to be valued—even when the giver hasn’t yet understood the Minor Prophets!
Are you aware of gifts that are undervalued or overvalued in your church? Is it easier for some newcomers to find their feet than others? What needs to change?
Lord, I commit myself afresh to serve You and others. Show me my spiritual gifts, and may they be used to build up the church and serve others.