Reading: Romans 12: 1-8
Verse One: Offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God.
Paul opens today’s passage by urging the Christians in Rome (and us) to “offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God”. When we offer of ourselves – our time, our gifts, our resources, our talents – and give them to God and for God’s glory, it pleases God. Just as with any relationship, when we take time for the other, when we consider the needs of the other, when we give of ourselves, it builds the relationship up.
John Wesley’s Covenant Prayer echoes this idea. It begins with these words: “I am no longer my own but thine. Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with who thou wilt. Put me to doing, put me to suffering”. It is a prayer that says no matter what, no matter when, no matter how, use me God. It is a prayer that cedes all personal rights and gives self fully to God. It embodies what it means to be a living sacrifice to God.
In verse two, Paul goes on to address what it is that allows a Christian to live this way. He first says not to be conformed to this world. This world is temporary, it is of the flesh. Paul then goes on to encourage us instead to be “transformed by the renewing of our mind” as we grow in our relationship with God. When we seek to transform our mind into God’s mind, we enter the next step in our relationship. We transform our mind by studying the Word, by spending time in prayer and fasting, by worshipping and fellowshipping with fellow believers. The more time we spend with God, the more we are transformed. The end result is that we come to know and live into God’s “good, pleasing, and perfect will”.
For Paul, the transformation and renewing of our minds brings our thinking into alignment with God’s thinking. Paul believed that behavior would follow thinking. As we become more aligned with God, our behaviors become things like serving obediently, living humbly, and giving generously. We begin to live as Jesus lived – taking time for the other, meeting the needs of the other, giving of self, loving all. This day, may we reflect Jesus to all we meet, offering ourselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God.