Romans 12:1-2. I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Present your bodies as a living sacrifice.
In order to save humanity Christ did just that. He sacrificed himself. By taking upon himself a body, by giving that body up in death, by being raised into a glorified body, and by uniting his life to yours, Jesus is saving you, the whole you – body, soul, and spirit. This is why God cares so much about what we do with our bodies. Our bodies are being saved. Our bodies are moving us toward our final salvation.
When Paul asks us to present our bodies he knows that whatever the body does flows from the soul and spirit. The body never acts independent of the spirit and soul. An appeal to the body IS an appeal to the spirit. And an appeal to the body to be a living sacrifice unto God IS an appeal to the Holy Spirit. It’s an appeal to Christ himself.
This is why there’s no guilt here in Paul’s words. No threat. He appeals to us, not demands. He asks you to present your body. It’s not slavery, it’s freedom. Love’s natural response is love. Grace’s natural response is grace. If Romans 12:1 sounds like law to you. If it sounds like a hassle, or an obligation to be filled every Sunday morning, then you don’t get grace. You don’t get Jesus.
“To live is Christ” IS living sacrifice. What a glorious paradox. “Sacrifices” are usually dead. They give up their life, literally, so others may live. This is not just how Christ died, but it is also how he lives. Today. Yes, he died. Yes, he was a dead sacrifice. But not today. Today he is a living sacrifice. He lives for us. He lives to love us, to guide us, to cleanse us, to heal us, to empower us, to care for us, to shelter us, to intercede for us. He is our living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.
You too were crucified with Christ, yet you live (Gal. 2:20). Christ lives in you. THE Living Sacrifice has made you a living sacrifice by his indwelling life. Do you see your life this way? Is your living also your sacrificing? I’m not talking about sacrificing occasionally or from guilt. I’m talking about counting every second of your life as worship. As selfless sacrifice.
Sacrifice at home – yes. But at work – nope, gotta get ahead.
Sacrifice for your friend – no problem. But your enemy – no chance, that’s weakness.
Sacrifice on Sunday at church – sure. But on your vacation – that’s “me time.”
Sacrifice my time – ok. But sacrifice my sexuality – too personal MYOB.
Sacrifice for my children – absolutely. But teach my children to sacrifice – too far Brady.
Sacrifice for God – Amen! But sacrifice for church – those aren’t the same thing are they?
Maybe this is why we love superhero movies so much. Because those guys are living sacrifices. They dedicate their life to the cause. No super hero time-shares. No super hero lounge. No super hero day off.
This is the life we are saved unto. We have THE Super Hero in us, removing all fear, providing all hope, affirming us, loving us, empowering us. But ours is the power of weakness. Not big muscles or a super suit. Not gamma radiation, or vibranium. Our weapons are not fleshly, but spiritual. Grace in the midst of weakness. Love in the midst of hate. Truth in the midst of lies. Our weapon is our life itself, Christ’s life lived through us.
Thank God for his mercies in Christ Jesus, because none of us will live every moment this way, as a living sacrifice. And when we fail, and we will, a lot, we can trust that our Living Sacrifice already lived as the atonement for sins. That is never our job, because there is no such thing as a living sacrifice for sins (the wage of sin is death). Our life is the sacrifice of worship. Praise for the glorious grace of God found in Jesus Christ our Lord.