“I appeal to you … to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable act of worship.” (Romans 12:1)
Just imagine first-century Jewish Christians. Since the time of Moses, the worship life of God’s people has been centered around the temple in Jerusalem (the largest religious site in the entire Roman Empire). It is where the priestly choir sings, sacred rituals are performed, and animals are killed, cooked and eaten by the worshippers and priests as part of the major festivals.
And now Paul writes this — read Romans 12:1. What? We are to be sacrifices?! Living — dead animals? Is this some of The Walking Dead zombie thing? Not at all. This is a loaded statement!
The sacrificial worship of God’s people had been at the temple in Jerusalem (a long, long way from Rome). The sacrifice is where God met with humanity and blessed them with his gracious presence. Now, the gathered body of believers is that place where God meets with humanity!
I’m fascinated too that Paul writes “present your bodies” (plural) as “a living sacrifice” (singular). This is a group working together with a singular purpose — even if our ways of working/serving are all different (Romans 12:4–8). And we are to offer our whole selves to God — not just one part of our life, but our whole life!
And how are we to do this? As verse two tells us, it is not by being under the influence of worldly things but by being under God’s. It is about letting the Holy Spirit renew our minds as we spend time in God’s word discerning his will for our lives (which is what you are doing at this very moment in time!). Discerning God’s will for our relationships, marriages, families, work, business and leisure, our life as citizens and in the church.
You aren’t a walking-dead zombie. You are a fully alive sacrifice making a difference in this world for Christ’s sake.
Lord, I thank you for accepting the sacrifice of our old lives so that You can give us life, and that life eternal. Thank you for loving me that much! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.