Christ Brings New Life
1Dear friends, God is good. So I beg you to offer your bodies to him as a living sacrifice, pure and pleasing. That's the most sensible way to serve God. 2Don't be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him.
3I realize God has treated me with undeserved grace, and so I tell each of you not to think you are better than you really are. Use good sense and measure yourself by the amount of faith that God has given you. 4 A body is made up of many parts, and each of them has its own use. 5That's how it is with us. There are many of us, but we each are part of the body of Christ, as well as part of one another.
6 God has also given each of us different gifts to use. If we can prophesy, we should do it according to the amount of faith we have. 7If we can serve others, we should serve. If we can teach, we should teach. 8If we can encourage others, we should encourage them. If we can give, we should be generous. If we are leaders, we should do our best. If we are good to others, we should do it cheerfully.
How do I know his will for my life? Romans 12 tells us how to become better listeners to God who has a perfect will for us. Paul, the writer of Romans “begs” his readers to “offer” our bodies as living sacrifices to God. Paul writes that this is our most reasonable response in light of God’s goodness or mercy.
What is God’s mercy? What has he done that being a living sacrifice is the appropriate choice for us? Jesus came as our sacrifice. The cross is God’s mercy. In light of Jesus’ action, be a living sacrifice. What would a first century reader picture as she read these words? “Sacrifice” would conjure images of the temple, of an animal, of blood, and of a burning altar. And in the context of Paul’s letter, “sacrifice” would remind the reader of the cross, the blood, the beatings, and Jesus’ death.
We understand a sacrifice today as giving until it hurts, but a first century believer understood sacrifice as giving to death. The phrase “living sacrifice” would therefore be a new idea: sacrifice but still alive – die but live. This is the journey of faith: giving, even to death. But what am I to sacrifice or give? My body, which to Paul is one’s whole self or soul. Followers of Jesus don’t just sacrifice time or money, but also our choices, our relationships, our dreams, our retirement … Paul begs you to choose this. Don’t choose to live as everyone else.
Don’t buy into the prevailing culture, the daily “pattern of this world” that is too busy, too materialistic, too entitled, too entertained and a series of other “too’s”! Be “changed” (literally “morphed”) into God’s culture (which Jesus calls the “Kingdom”). Subscribe to the culture of God that gives generously, loves with good deeds, moves to a poorer neighbourhood to make a difference, breathes out forgiveness… And here’s the thing: as you step into God’s culture, you’ll make yourself more attuned to his voice (as you’ll already be doing his will!).
Father, “morphing” is not just tweaking, or fixing a little thing about me. Morphing is the stuff of caterpillar into butterfly! Today I ask for Your strength and healing and courage to be morphed more into your culture as I morph out of my prevailing culture.