Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper (your spiritual act of) worship. – Romans 12:1 NIV –
I love things in life that simplify. This single line of Scripture regarding our relationship with God in the context of Christ is one of those clarifying, simplifying, focusing summaries. It crystallizes what our response and way toward God should be following our coming to Christ. This admonition the Apostle Paul gives acts as a summary response following chapters of his explaining and unpacking the profound riches of the gospel in the book of Romans. He has just spent 11 chapters communicating God’s saving power, eternal purpose and dynamic grace released and established through the life, death and resurrection of the Jesus Christ. Paul just rehearsed the new found LIFE we now have IN Christ, that we are dead to sin and ALIVE to God. Showing we are sons and daughters through faith and no longer slaves. We were chained to darkness and in separation but are now participants in the power, freedom and light of God. From that context Paul says, “Therefore,” that is, in light of this amazing gospel I’ve just shared, “I urge you…”
I Urge You
To be urged is to be admonished, compelled, strongly told to, and encouraged. There is an urgency following your reception of the gospel, when standing in the light of God’s great grace. There is compelling that should be felt and occur in all of us when we look at this great grace. When we stand in view of Him as a result of His love we ought to “be urged” and to urge others near us. This urging is really not dynamic or real outside of the context of God’s grace toward us. We have to stand in the context of sonship to really understand this “urging,” this urgency. This great thing God has done is of such profound weight and importance it ought to command our attention. Let the gospel arrest your person; let the weight of His love and great work rest upon you – be felt. Let it direct your eyes and tune your ears; let this great reality of God seen in Christ still your thoughts and order your affections. Sons and daughters, assume a posture of quiet attention toward these great mercies God has shown you!
In View of
“In view of God’s mercy…” Are you “in view of?” What is your vantage point? Do you have line of site when it comes to God’s light. Can you see His glory, image, beauty, love and nature in Christ? Use your faith and turn your heart toward the real, living person of God we have found in Jesus. Every believer as a result of God grace has eyes that can see and ears that can hear in a very living and dynamic way. We can “behold the Lord” and in that view be effected and empowered. Call it a “living view.” We have a living view of the God and this view is transformative and results in an effect of our heart, mind and soul.
So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord – who is the Spirit – makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.– 2 Cor 3:18 NLT –
Offer Your Body
It is this kind of “view” that actually allows us to do the unimaginable. From this place of grace we are able to “offer our bodies to God as a living sacrifice.” I’ve spent so much time since becoming a Christ follower meditating on, studying and unpacking this particular expression. I understand the initial idea of “offering our bodies” but the attached phrase, “as a living sacrifice” brings the act of offering our physical bodies to an entirely different level. Consider what a sacrifice is – it is something that’s offered, but by way of it’s death. It is a putting to death of something in honor of another. Through it’s death is assumes the alternate purpose of adding value to another and the act becomes an incredible communication and embodiment of love.
To use a more simple and crude example, the spending of money on behalf of another person is to sacrifice that amount of money (see it pass away) and in turn the act of giving something away on behalf another person become an expression of care, appreciation, love etc… The act of loss, giving, sending away or passing away becomes an embodiment, expression and communication of love when done on behalf of another or in honor of another. That being clear we can agree that to “sacrifice” implies death or a reduction in honor of another person. This is where the phrase “living sacrifice” becomes somewhat of an odd expression. It sounds like an oxymoron, jumbo shrimp, act naturally, civil war, good grief – living sacrifice.
A Living Sacrifice
What does it mean to be to offer a body as a living sacrifice? A sacrifice that cannot die but never leaves the place of offering. A sacrifice perpetually suspended in the place of expiring. To be in a state of constantly giving and living for another. One thing is very clear. To offer “as a living sacrifice” is to not offer a one time, momentary gift, that is to say, we are offering the gift of ourselves for now and forever. We are pledging our moments and freedoms to God in service. We are positioning ourselves upon an altar, not for a moment, but positioned there to stay. This seems very intense, but also realize we are offering ourselves to God whose grace and love does not expire. When we think of perpetually giving, we think in the terms of human limits. We want to assume the posture of servant out of love for Him in full knowledge that the power to do so comes from a limitless and dynamic source. To offer in this way is to say to God, “I am assuming the full-time posture of a servant, conduit, expression and or representative.”
Earlier in the book of Romans Paul tells us to “count yourselves as dead to sin and alive to God.” I believe the offering of ourselves as living sacrifices corresponds to this and to other places where Paul indicated that he “died daily.” We are entering a new life. The old has gone. We are alive to God… Being alive to sin employs us in different pursuits and actions and becoming alive to God alternately employs our bodies as instruments for His purposes. In offering ourselves this way we become potential expressions of God’s love in the earth, instruments of righteousness. (Ref. Romans 6:11-13)
A Spiritual Act
The New American Standard translation concludes the Scripture, “this is your spiritual act of worship.” Offering our body, representative of our whole being and life, in the light of the incredible mercies God has revealed in the gospel is our true and spiritual act of worship. This function of beholding Him and offering our body is spiritual and fundamentally, even singularly labeled as the true and proper way for us to interact with God as followers of Christ, a total surrender of ourselves. If we want to ensure lives of worship we must look to Him with intention and stay in a place of offering ourselves consistently. This will result in spiritually open and divinely empowered lives.
I’ll be writing a follow-up post to this that dives into Romans 12:2 (the following verse), but for now let’s be encouraged to practice the discipline of beholding and offering ourselves to God. This is our worship! Come alive to God!