"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 worship. 2 Do not conform 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. 3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you." (Romans 12:1-3)
And, rather than speed right by them because they're so familiar, I decided I would stop and listen...to try to hear what God was saying to me (and us) through them.
I didn't get very far.
First, Paul says "Therefore" (told it wasn't very far).
What's this about? Well, anytime you see a 'therefore' it is (of course) a link to the thought just before it, and in this case, Paul was talking all about the Grace and Mercy of God, and how we did not deserve it, but that He gave it anyway--to Jews and Gentiles--and made us 'one' in Christ. We should not take that for granted, but should be humbled, appreciative, and grateful.
...and what should we DO with that?
"I urge you...to offer your bodies as a 'Living Sacrifice' to God."
Isn't the whole point of a 'sacrifice' in the Scripture that it is dead? After all, before an animal is sacrificed on the altar in Scripture, it is always killed. It's dead. That's part of the power of the sacrifice!
Yet, Paul tells us to be a "LIVING Sacrifice".
How do we do that? How do we 'sacrifice' our lives on an ongoing basis.
Picture it this way:
If everything you were involved in, everything you were passionate about, everything and everyone you loved was able to be held in your hands. Picture yourself putting those things in a box, and then putting that 'box' on the altar.
Paul is calling us to offer each one of those things up to God as a sacrifice...to give them over to God in surrender. In this way, we are putting God first in life, before all those other things, and that is an act of 'worship'.
But Paul is also calling us further...to live that way! To live every interest, every pursuit, every hour, every relationship, everything as if we're continually putting it back on that altar!
It calls for focus and prayerful concentration...to live every moment as if you are giving that moment (and whatever you're doing during that moment) back to God as an act of worship.
If we do this, it will change how we go through our lives in a BIG way!
Imagine if you lived every moment as though you were offering it up to God, putting that 'box' on the altar. How would you live differently?
How much time would you waste at home or at work?
How much immorality would you allow in?
How many arguments would you have?
How much sarcasm would you allow?
How much money would you spend on trivial things?
If we 'got' this...if we really took it to heart...it would revolutionize our lives!
The holy life which would result, and the power of God that would show through would be amazing!
...and really, this IS our 'spiritual act of worship'. It's the appropriate thing to do.
Try it today. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring it to your mind throughout the day and help you to picture yourself giving each moment over to God, putting it on the 'altar' of worship. Then watch what He does.
It will be amazing!