Today’s Readings: 1 Samuel 14, Romans 12, Jeremiah 51, Psalm 30
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, 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 renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)
I am just loving these words for a Monday morning! Doesn’t this just make you wish you were one of the Romans? As much as I would love to meet Jesus, I think I’d put Paul on my top ten list as well. In just a few sentences he gives us so much wisdom that can truly sustain and fortify us. Once again, I left writing to the last minute this week, and I’m so glad I did. It’s almost as if God speaks to me so much more clearly when the “hour” is upon me! Let’s start at the beginning. Paul says, “I’m appealing to you by the mercies of God.” He’s picking up a thread previously woven in this letter. He’s reminding the Roman’s of God’s mercy in their lives:
- Freedom from death (5:12-21)
- Freedom from sin (6:1-23)
- Freedom from the previous law that fosters sin (7:6-25)
- The gift of the Spirit (8:1-17)
- God’s plan to conform believers to the Son (8:29)
- God’s faithfulness to keep promises, especially those made to Israel (11:25-29)
In other words, Paul is saying, look at all the great things God has done for us. Now, the least we can do is give our bodies over to him. He’s challenging us to push back against the urge to passively conform to this world. Rather, he wants us to be active in our pursuit of transformation through continuous renewal of our minds. I love what he says next, “…by testing we will discern what is the will of God” (Romans 12:2). This week we finally got a diagnosis for our 5 year old son, who has suffered with illness for months. When his physician called us to tell us he has Crohn’s disease, we didn’t shed tears. Instead, we felt relief. As parents, we felt that we could finally give Oliver’s body over to God’s care. We knew that we had run the “race” of medical testing and intervention for Ollie, now we leave it to Him. As I send my first born to Kindergarten tomorrow morning my heart is heavy with the knowledge that he has seen more pain, more suffering and more fear than most 5 year olds. But at the same time, I know that I will experience absolute joy when he bounds off to hug his little friends and be with the teachers he loves. He is our living sacrifice.
But God has given us freedom from death. He reminds us through Paul’s letter to the Romans that God is faithful and he keeps his promises. What may feel broken today; our bodies, our hearts or our minds will help us to discern the will of God tomorrow. Whatever sadness, whatever hurt or anger you have today, give it up to Him. Remember that through mindful, purposeful renewal of our mind we can discern what he wants for us. Know that you are good, acceptable and perfect in His eyes.