“Therefore, do not let sin exercise dominion in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. No longer present your members to sin as instruments of wickedness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life and present your members to God as instruments of righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you since you are not under law but under grace.”
~Romans 6.12-14, New Revised Standard Version
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you may discern what is the will of God– what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we many have members and not all members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ and individually we are members one of another.”
~Romans 12.1-5, New Revised Standard Version
Today, I plead with you as Paul did with “all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints” that not only American Christians but disciples throughout the world would present our bodies as living sacrifices (1.7; 12.1). It seems that we have sacrificed our bodies to lusts that gratify our flesh but leave the lives of others famished, to ideas and ideologies, to personalities and empty principles that perpetuate our self- delusions and self- ignorance, to race and other social constructs that maintain social hierarchy and oppression. We willingly and knowingly give our bodies and our minds to these things because they are self- serving either in that they support the way that we want to be seen and believe ourselves to be or that they maintain a reality that we have always known or the way that we believe that life should be.
The Wuest Bible translates verse one of chapter twelve this way, “I therefore beg you, please, brethren, through the instrumentality of the aforementioned mercies of God, by a once-for-all presentation to place your bodies at the disposal of God, a sacrifice, a living one, a holy one, well- pleasing, your rational, sacred service.” To present your body in this manner is an exercise of the mind of the believer, which is why the mind must be renewed. Our minds cannot be conformed to this world, imitating its have/ have nots, majority/ minority, Democrat/ Republican, center/ marginalized, urban/ suburban, black/ white/ red/ yellow/ brown/ beige perception of the earth and its people. For of what benefit would it be to confess Christ and his unconditional while believing in our minds that some are undeserving of him and this love?
It is because we have received God’s mercy and not His judgment that we offer our selves willingly, freely. Also, it is because we stand in need of the same grace, the same mercy that we are unable to look down upon any one else. We are not under the law but grace. This law includes those created for the purposes of social conformity and hierachy. This grace is unearned and does what the law could not do: save us. Nothing that we have created or that we conform to can deliver us from ourselves, from our sinful condition. The New Living Translation reads, “When you think of what he has done for you, is it too much to ask?” This request will not contribute to or assist in our social positioning but is a matter of being possessed by God, placed in His hands for His glory– not when we die but while yet living.
And God will not prod us or force us but asks that we offer our lives to be of daily use to Him. No, our faith is not a Sunday morning practice but it is a daily decision to present our whole selves, not just our mouths or our members but our minds to God. It requires a transformation of how we think and consequently, what we believe as this is not the American way. We are familiar with and may have provided what has been deemed “lip service.” But, God is asking for our mind’s service.
Though it is befitting, though it is our spiritual worship and God has been merciful to us in His judgment of our bodies’ actions, Paul begs us to give our bodies to God. It is a sensible, rational request as we are “called to be saints” just as the recipients of Paul’s letter. We are called to a life transformed by the holiness and righteousness of God, God’s sacrificial love demonstrated through the giving of His Son, Jesus the Christ and the pardon that we receive when we accept Him as our personal Lord and Savior. We have all received this same mercy, so great and undeserved. This is why we cannot think of ourselves more highly than we ought as the cross of Christ is the great equalizer. But, not only does it make us the same but it also joins us together.
We are not members of one race: the human race but one family, one body and members one of another. This the will of God and it is good, acceptable and perfect. It is my prayer that we would present our bodies with all of their social privileges to this sacrificial truth and that our minds would serve it. Amen.