Romans 12:1 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.
This is a justly famous verse, and the how of it is expressed both in verse 2 and then in verses 6-8. God is certainly worthy of our worship, but we don’t really know how to go about doing it. Throughout history people have tried all sorts of things to worship deity as they understood it, all the way from meditation to human sacrifice. Paul is saying that in a sense, human sacrifice is indeed the way to go, but not by killing someone, and not by imposing that sacrifice on someone else. I’m reminded of the sons of Zebedee, James and John. They both volunteered to “drink the cup Jesus would drink,” (Matthew 20:22) not knowing it referred to crucifixion, but the way they did it was very different. James was the first of the 12 apostles to be martyred (Acts 12:2), and tradition tells us John was the only one of those 12 to die a natural death. I personally think James had the easier course! John had to keep doing what this verse says, day in and day out, until he was well past 90. That’s a living sacrifice! None of us knows the exact course our life will follow, but we too are called to live our lives for Christ Jesus our Lord, who died and rose again for us. That includes not fitting in with the world (verse 2) and exercising the gifts God has placed in us, for the blessing of those around us and for His glory (verses 6-8).
I had read this verse at least by the time I was 10, but grasping it and living it out is still going on 62 years later! Offering my body to God as a living sacrifice takes many forms, because it encompasses every moment of my life. It includes getting out of the house and walking 5K three times a week, weather permitting, and it also includes going to bed at night so that I will be properly rested. It includes active physical labor, such as the carpentry I did yesterday, and it includes eating what my body needs, and not more. One of the evidences of God’s grace is that all of these activities can be pleasurable indeed, particularly when done with awareness of the God who makes them possible and to whom they are offered. That’s not at all to say that every moment of life is fun, but it is to say that when we live for Christ, the awareness of His presence puts a different perspective on everything. This world puts a lot of pressure on me and everyone else to conform, and resisting that is an essential part of my worship of my Creator. Likewise, faithful stewardship of the gifts He has placed in me cannot be separated from true worship. I delight to worship through song and prayer, both individually and especially with brothers and sisters in Christ, but I must never think that when that is done, I have completed worship.
Father, thank You for this clear reminder. You’ve given me another message, and I haven’t even delivered the one You gave me for tomorrow! Help me share the riches You pour out on me, when and how and with whom You intend, so that Your purposes may be fulfilled on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!