As long as we’re on the subject of going on auto-pilot with familiar passages, I’d like to continue in this thread. Romans 12:1-2 gets a lot of coverage:
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
(Rom 12:1-2 NASB)
What a rich passage! It seems I could camp out in there for an eternity, considering what it means to offer my body as a sacrifice to God. And being transformed, renewing my mind, proving God’s good, acceptable and perfect will; these are amazing commands and promises for the believer. That’s what I want for my life!
But wait. Let’s see what follows:
For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
(Rom 12:3-5 NASB)
You mean, once I have this sacrificed body, this transformed mind, knowing the will of God, I’m supposed to be humble? I thought this was supposed to make me better than those other people! You mean I’m stuck here? What is that supposed to do for my self-esteem?
Paul goes on to describe how we use the gifts we have in the body of Christ. Each one does according to his gift: prophesying, teaching, exhorting, giving, aiding, being merciful, and so on. This is the spiritual act of worship, the living sacrifice Paul is talking about. It happens in the body of Christ, the church. It’s not solitaire.
Paul loves to talk about the living, breathing connection we have with one another as the body of Christ. Because it’s so obviously filled with love! Listen:
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.
(Rom 12:9-13 NASB)
What a beautiful place the church is when this happens! It has little to do with what music is being sung, how cool the sanctuary looks, or the worship leader’s haircut. Those who live out the fullness of this passage in authenticity are true worshipers.