a life of sacrifice is downright strange, isn't it?
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.
Oh, the book of Romans! One of my favorite books.
If you’ve never read it cover to cover, DO IT! Seriously. Take a couple of days or weeks and just read it. I’ll warn you though, it’s thicky thick thick—jammed with logic and truth, horrors and hope, grit and beauty. But it is so, so worth the toil. I’m betting you will come back again and again to it’s deep, dense treasures. It’s all about our God, and us, his people. It’s about God’s love overcoming our brokenness, his grace covering our sins, and his Son exchanging his life for ours. I love this book. And our verse for this month comes at just the point where Gospel logic inspires Gospel practice. Paul, the apostle/author, has reasoned for the last 11 chapters point-by-point for the necessity and power of the Gospel of our salvation by faith alone in Jesus Christ. Amen! And here, finally, in Romans 12 he tells us what we can do with all that knowledge: act on it! This is where the rubber meets the road. Paul begins to detail out what true Christian living looks like, and it’s this beautiful, Spirit-filled, holy work done in faith and with one another. Yes, sir. I love me some practical application.
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But as beautiful as it is, it’s hard work.
This new life that God has won for us in Jesus is a life of sacrifice. Anyone believing otherwise isn’t a Bible reader. Chapter 12 starts off by saying, “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.” Paul is saying that if we really want to please God, if we really want to worship him, we must give up on living “our best life now” and instead live “our sacrificial life now”. Why? Motivation is everything here. Sacrifice for its own sake doesn’t make us holy, it just makes us austere. And sacrifice doesn’t earn us anything either. We don’t sacrifice our lives FOR God, so he will owe us something. No. We sacrifice our lives TO God, to live for him, to cherish him, to worship him. And we do so out of love for him and gratitude for his overwhelming mercies. Because he has forgiven us, freed us, adopted us, and loves us, we in turn love him and want to please and worship him with our everything. This is what it means to “offer [our] bodies as a living sacrifice”. We willfully give up our prerogative over our lives and submit instead to God’s good plan, his word, his authority. This is our fullest way of loving God back. As Jesus himself says, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word.” (John 14:23, ESV) But what does a living sacrifice look like?
We look like weirdos.
Now, let’s be straight here. A life of sacrifice is downright strange, isn’t it? I mean, do you know any pop songs about it, watch any sitcoms, or see commercials that promote sacrificial living? I didn’t think so. It’s straight-up odd, countercultural stuff. Specifically, it’s weird because we are supposed to look nothing like the world around us. Instead, we should look like Jesus. Our memory verse says it this way, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” This is how we become the living sacrifices we want to be! We are transformed into something that looks more like Jesus and less like the world around us.
-We look more like “love your neighbor”, and less like “look out for number 1”.
-We look more like “turn the other cheek”, and less like “cut out that toxic person”.
-We look more like “give generously to those in need” and less like “treat yo-self”.
Are you starting to catch a glimpse of what our lives should look like? They’re radically different lives—lives inspired by God’s mercy, lives empowered by his Spirit, lives that look more like Jesus over time. Our lives are in the process of transformation. And we get to participate in that holy work God is doing in us each and every day. Amen?
Here are a couple of ways you can participate with God in your transformation:
-Read Romans. See whether it doesn’t move you closer to Jesus on the spectrum of sacrificial living.
-Pop the hood on your own heart right now. What ways are you looking more like the world and less like Jesus?
-Ask the Lord to empower you by his Spirit to live more like him.
Thanks for reading,
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Hi there, I'm Natalie! I'm so glad you're here. I'd love to connect with you to hear more about what God is doing in your life!
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