“With eyes wide open to the mercies of God, I beg you, my brothers, as an act of intelligent worship, to give him your bodies, as a living sacrifice, consecrated to him and acceptable by him.” Romans 12:1
Our passion for God makes us a church that embraces the purpose of God.
Passion always points to purpose. God built this pattern into human nature. But unless our passion is for God, the pattern is broken, sometimes glorious, but always flawed.
Soldiers can have such a passion for freedom that they are willing to give their lives. Athletes can have such a passion to win, that they are willing to offer their bodies. Men and women can have such a passion for success, they are willing to offer their health or their families to get it. But with eyes wide open to God’s mercy, the grateful believer responds, “There is nothing You cannot ask of me.” So, motivated by God’s great and free mercies, we step into the purpose of God.
- STEP ONE: Moved along by God’s mercies, we step into God’s purpose of intimacy with His people. His fixed purpose is to have His people “with Him”. Jesus promised: “I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am there you may be also.” God, in Christ, has made our way into His presence. Draw near. Only there do we find God’s purpose for us.
- STEP TWO: Moved along by God’s mercies, we step into God’s purpose of possessing His people. God has always said, “I will be their God and they will be My people.” In 1 Peter 2, we are reminded of God’s affectionate name for His people: “special treasure“. Therefore, offer yourself as a present, as a gift, to God.
- STEP THREE: Moved along by God’s mercies, we step into God’s purpose to take pleasure in His people.
But what kind of gift does God want? What gift of ours gives God pleasure? : our bodies as a living and holy sacrifice
Are your surprised by the blatant material nature of the gift that gives God pleasure in His people? Don’t be. Remember, all creation accounts of history, except the one in the Bible, portray the material world as wild and menacing, and the gods subdue and tame it. Yet they remain aloof from and above the material and the physical world. But in the Bible, God creates the material. He gets His hands dirty: like an engineer, like a farmer, like a surgeon. Just as Revelation 4:11 says: “And for Your pleasure (all things) are created.”
So here, Paul writes that we should present our BODIES as a living and holy offering to God. This language is as corporeal as it gets – “soma” is the common Greek word for “body”. God is saying to us: “My purpose comes through your body.”The essence of a believer’s service to God is the life of the gospel expressed in the tangible, the eternal operating in the temporal. ( 1 John 3: 17-18) The “messy” God, who got His hands dirty creating our world, got His hands bloody redeeming this world, now calls us, by His mercy, to get our hands dirty and bloody, as the consequential privilege of knowing Him.
More than that, what pleases God is that we offer our bodies as a SACRIFICE . Immediately we think about the imagery of the OT sacrificial system, but this sounds more like HUMAN SACRIFICE on the order of the Mayans. In that cruel and evil system, the god required the life of the worshipper – often bound, gagged and struggling. But the gospel of Christ is sooo different! God has not taken our lives from us, but He has given us His life on the altar of the cross. Now, out of gratitude, we freely place our lives on an altar of service to Him. This is no sacrifice of atonement, but a sacrifice of thanksgiving and consecration in which we say: “In view of God’s mercies, there’s nothing you cannot ask of me.”
If you are sacrificing your life to something in order to get life, you’re dying. The sacrifice that pleases God always flows freely out of the mercies of God, out of a heart of repentance and faith in the One who loves us so much that HE sacrificed His life for us.
Finally, God takes pleasure in a HOLY sacrifice . Romans 11:33 says : “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” The sacrifice acceptable to God is the sacrifice that is from Him, the sacrifice that is through Him and the sacrifice that is to Him — It’s all about Christ. Isaiah 53 promises: “the results of His sufferings He shall see and He will be satisfied.” When God sees the glory of the sacrifice of His Son in us, He is well-pleased. He has pleasure in His people.
In God’s presence, in God’s possession and in God’s pleasure, we find God’s purpose for our lives and for Covenant Presbyterian Church.