Romans 12:1 “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”.
This a favorite bible verse for many people and it certainly is a most inspiring verse but what does it mean?
I am convinced that this verse is deliberately obscure. I think that it was intended to be pondered. I think that anyone who thinks that they have a concise handle on it is bound to find someone else who is able to put a different spin on it. And rightly so after all being a Christian can sometimes be a complex thing.
On another blog I contemplated just to what extremes Christians will go to try and be faithful to this directive. But the idea of working yourself to death for the kingdom of God not only never appealed to me but also failed to ring true in light of Jesus statement: “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” in Matthew 11:30.
In the passage of my reading my bible I regularly come across the statement of God saying through His prophets ” I desire mercy, not sacrifice“1.
Now clearly this is talking about physical sacrifice but I wondered if it could be applied to our Romans verse.
If mercy and sacrifice are interrelated does this mean that acts or mercy are actually acts of sacrifice .
Clearly if it is going to be an act of sacrifice it has to be something that is of significance to us. It has to be something of value. So is forgiving our enemies being a living sacrifice?
What about acts of kindness such as sharing our food with someone who needs it, is that an act of worship?
It clearly has to be something that is not out of our surplus or that would be Pharisaical.
As part of lent one year, instead of giving up something we were challenged to do an act of generosity to someone. This turned out to be quite difficult for me. Not because I think I am ungenerous but because we were asked to do something that we considered generous that we wouldn’t normally do. Thinking of such things was a little hard but not as hard as going against my natural restraints of giving in such circumstances.
It made me ponder however, is that what being a living sacrifice might be; at least in some small way.
I wouldn’t like to sound as though I’m suggesting that one can work their way into heaven but it would seen to me that being a living sacrifice and consequently worship means to actually show compassion to others, not just practically but in attitude as well. Meaning that we should show consideration to others beliefs and opinions. We don’t have to compromise our own or even agree with other opinion but we do have to consider them.
I don’t think that the answer is as easy as all that but it is part of the challenge.