What a biblical idea.
"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." – Romans 12.1
God is huge. So much bigger than we can imagine. So much more powerful. So much more wonderful. Paul ends Romans chapter 11 by saying: "Oh, what a wonderful God we have! How great are riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible are his methods! For who can know what the Lord is thinking? Who knows enough to be his counselor? And who could ever give him so much that he would have to pay it back? For everything comes from him; everything exists by his power and is intended for his glory. To him be glory ever more. Amen." God doesn’t have to do anything if he doesn’t want to. Neither does God have to explain himself to us. God does not need us. God does not have to do anything for us.
But God does.
The wild thing about God is that God chose to live sacrificially. Instead of lording it over us, God offered himself in sacrifice for our sake. Even though we weren’t worthy of God’s servanthood, God served.
Paul has spent 11 chapters arguing that God is merciful. When we
had earned consequence for sin, God didn’t give us that consequence.
He granted us freedom. He granted us life. He gave us mercy. When we
pleaded for release, he gave us release. God got down in the dirt and washed us off. Instead of living in a fortress of solitude, God lived among us, with us… for us. It’s astonishing! And that’s why Paul urges the readers
of Romans, with God’s mercy in mind, we should respond to God in the
appropriate way. We should not take this God of ours for granted at all.
A living sacrifice. That’s how we are to respond to God. We are to be sacrificially living for God. That means we live holy–
with lives set apart for him. Our every action and thought is to
reflect God’s purity and completeness. Our behavior is to be
responsive of God’s mercy showered upon us. If I were a criminal who
had pleaded for mercy and had been granted mercy, it would not be right
for me to go back to my criminal behavior! Well, that’s what I am. A
criminal who has been given mercy. It’s time now to live like it.
Living sacrificially also means to live pleasingly to God. We should strive to be pleasing
to God. Not a difficult or cumbersome response. When someone has
saved me from a terrible consequence, I should want to honor that
person with my life. So, my every thought and behavior is done in that
person’s name. I should live in such a way that their heart is pleased
that they saved me. Never should I be a burden or regret in their
eyes. My behavior should bless my savior.
Living this way is an act of worship. We worship God when we
live as a sacrifice. In the Temple system of Israel people would bring
a sacrifice to show their dedication and gratitude to their Redeeming
God. What God truly wants is for his people to do justly, to love
mercy, and to walk humbly with him. He wants a heart that is cut for
him… bleeding with love and thanksgiving and earnestly being given to
him in response to his mercy. Bleeding means willingness to endure
some struggle and pain for God too. May this be true of me today.