Romans 12:1-2 must be one of my favorite passages…okay, they are ALL great but I really seem to gravitate to this one a lot. It reads (NIV):
1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is: his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Read that again! Read again, slowly…we are to offer our bodies as “living sacrifices”. This phrase, it seems, is a bit of an oxymoron. “Living” is the Greek word “zao” (zao) which means exactly what you expect it to mean: alive and not dead! And the word for “sacrifices” is the Greek word “thusia” (qusia) which means (here’s a surprise!) “a sacrfice or victim”. It implies death. But…
Just like every oxymoron in the English language, it has a deeper meaning. Let’s look at another piece of Paul’s writing in Galatians 2:20:
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Get it? We are called to die to “self”. When we crucify our sinful nature on God’s holy alter, we are free to live for Him! The alter of God has been cleared of the bloody carcasseses of sacrifices of the Old Covenant and room has been made for us to offer ourselves to the Father.
That’s a very tall order. Our spiritual act of worship is to offer our bodies as living sacrifices! This reminds of John 4 when Jesus is talking to the Samaritan woman and they get into a conversation about worship. Jesus told her (4:23), “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” When you put these two concepts together–WOW! Part of worshiping in spirit and truth involves the concept of being a living sacrifice. Worship should be a sacrifice. Worship should cost us something. Look at what God went through to bring us to Him: He gave His Son. Not an angel, but His one and only son.
I close with Romans 12:1-2 in The Message
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.