Romans 12 challenges the American way of living at so many levels. For today, I’m simply going to look at one facet of the American Dream and one facet of Romans 12 in a royal boxing match where Romans 12 is the decided victor. Romans 12 challenges us, or rather God does, to look at life through an entirely different lense. What does it mean to be a living sacrifice as a people, as God’s people? At Chapel in the Pines where my wife and I have been attending for around eight months now, Dennis has been preaching on themes such as being a living sacrifice and being a compassionate people. For eight months I’ve been getting Romans 12 hammered into my head from so many angles. My buddy, Todd Waelty, has also been repeatedly mentioning this chapter. Then, one of my good friends, Grant Medefind, also pressed it forward as being a real game-changer for him. As we pour over this chapter, we’re challenged to see this calling to be a living sacrifice as a community thing. I believe today was the first time I realized that it clearly states the word “sacrifice” in the singular. Paul is speaking to brothers and sisters in Christ (plural), but then he says that we are to present our bodies (plural) as a living sacrifice (singular/the community), holy and acceptable to God, which is our spiritual worship.
As Americans, we always have an eye on what can be consumed within or outside of our budget. Unfortunately, this is not only in relation to goods and services available on the market. We are also the ones found all over the world often consuming the cultural and emotional beauty in other nations. We move through our own nation too with a consumption mentality, a nearly unbridled appetite to have and take rather than give and serve.
I want to challenge two groups of people to turn from being consumers to being caregivers: Christians and Spouses.
For Christians, looking at Romans 12, we are not to be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewal of our minds. We are to be oriented around Christ and His death and what this Person and His work on the cross mean for every facet of our lives both earthly and eternal. As we orient around Christ, we are less circumstance-affected and more lively in our love for one another and the lost.
For spouses, believers and non-believers, we can learn from this too. As humanity, we can worship God by honoring one another, out-doing one another in showing honor. So much more joy is found in a life of giving. Why did I choose the word caregiver? My wife worked in a Sunrise Assisted Living unit back in college and my grandmother was in an assisted living facility too. Those like my wife while serving in this capacity are called caregivers. Imagine the life of a believer and/or a spouse as being caregivers continually. I’ve done some caregiving myself in different capacities. When engaged in a role where caregiving is necessary, no matter the subjects physical or mental condition, there is imense joy felt in the heart of the caregiver when the care is given with a cheerful heart. What if we looked out for one another in this caregiving way, abandoning our comforts more often and spending our energies serving and helping and lifting up drooping arms and eyes with a cheerful ear, hand, heart, and prayer?
Please accept this challenge as coming from someone who is himself broken by this plea. It’s not me making the plea, nor Paul ultimately. It’s Scripture which is simply a series of letters written from Heaven to Earth, from God to humanity and particularly to His Bride, His children, Christ’s blood-bought siblings.
Lord Jesus, please teach us every day how to pray with hearts of compassion and teach us to love with hands of compassion and passion ultimately for God. May we desire You more every day and may our hands, feet, eyes, and ears skip and rush to serve with joy. We look to You with immense joy and anticipation for how You might choose to use us next, not any one of us but US AS A PEOPLE. May we together be a fragrant offering to You, dear God. We are totally dependant upon the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Amen.