Our Living Sacrifice — Romans 12:1-2

By Kersley Fitzgerald

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Continued from Page One

Service of Worship — In the Greek, "service of worship" is one word: latreia. It is a service for hire which, when it is God Who is being served, has a sacred or set-apart tint to it. It applied to the work that the priests did in the Temple.

With all of this mess, Romans 12:1 could be interpreted to say:
Because of the pity God shows us in our constant cycle of disobedience and grace, we should place our life, our life's work, our identity, at the disposal of God, for Him to use as He sees fit. The well-informed and deliberate sacrifice of any right to our being is the best and most logical way we can set ourselves apart from the world for the service of God.
Conform — There is a dry definition for "conform" (suschematizo), but when I think of the word, I think of the meme going around proving that cats are liquid. Have you seen them? There's a kitten in a wine glass, a Persian in a pickle jar, and a pair smooshed into one vase. My favorite may be the cat in a violin case. That's what we tend to do — smoosh, stuff, and contort ourselves into whatever the world tells us is right.

World — The "world" is actually aion, from which we get eon. It means the age, as in the culture, that we live in, but it has a sense of a very long time. So it's not just 20th century culture that we need to reject, it's the entire cultural history of humanity. There is nothing of any human culture that we should seek to emulate. Not that we can't like superheroes or football or Downton Abbey. Just that we shouldn't value vile things, and we shouldn't raise tame things to the level of idolatry.

Transform — Instead of stuffing ourselves into a box, sink, or vase and pretending we fit, we are called to "transform," or metaorphoo. We are to change to a form that is not native to the world. It's actually the same word used when Jesus was "transfigured."

Renewal — How? By "renewal" (anakainosis) of our "minds" (nous). We are to change our way of thinking and our point of view and our paradigms to those that are held by God. Our reason and perception should be changed so that they no longer reflect the human cultures of the ages, but mirror the truth that only God can see. It helps that the spiritual of God is also logikos — the logical truth.

Prove the Will of God — It is only when we have the perspective of God that we can analyze the situation and "prove" (dokimazo) what He wants us to do about it (thelema). This isn't an uncommon situation. If I asked someone to get me some milk, they might consider that they know I try to eat fairly healthfully and show up with a carton of skim. If I tell my husband, who knows much more about me, he'll get a box of rice milk, because he perceives me enough to know it's the only type of milk I'm not allergic to.

Good — "Good," or agathos, is a little different from euarestos (which directly follows it), in that it reflects the innate character of the thing as opposed to how another perceives it. God's will is not only pleasing, it is inherently good in its core nature.

Perfect — God's will is also "perfect" (teleios). It requires nothing else to be complete. There is nothing that can be added to it to make it better.

Romans 12:2, then, says:
Don't mold yourself into an unnatural form in order to fit in with human culture. Grow to be completely changed in your very nature by learning, understanding, and adopting God's point of view which is actually based on reality. If you see things as God does, you'll be able to understand what He would want you to do about it. And that plan He has for you is always good in general, good for you, and absolutely complete.
So what does Romans 12:1-2 mean? It's the story of a person who realizes that even her best efforts can only ever hope to elicit pity from God because her attempts at obedience are so transitory and pathetic. Not due to anything she can offer but only by God's continual acts of mercy in her life, she considers her options and chooses to give herself — heart, body, soul, will, and work — to God to use as His logical will dictates. She rejects the influence of human wisdom and culture to mold her into something unnatural, and instead accepts that God's wisdom is best because He knows all and perceives reality accurately. This change in her point of view elicits a change her nature and allows her to see what part she has in God's plan. And it assures her that this plan, which looks like foolishness to the world, is the best possible option in all of creation.

Image Credit: elycefeliz; "A Cup of Yoda"; Creative Commons

TagsBiblical-Truth  | Christian-Life

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Published 12-29-15