When my wife and I first began attending church and getting involved, quite a few of my friends and family started sharing their concern that we might be going too far with this whole “Jesus thing.”
We wanted to know what He really was about and what He really had to offer us, but we never anticipated what God would do through us. The truth is that I had already predetermined the amount of my life I was willing to allow God to have; after all I had a life of my own as well. But as I read the Bible and learned from my pastor, I began to realize that God wanted every part of my life. And to be honest, this worried me. I wasn’t so sure it was a good idea to live completely for God and take the chance of missing out on something great in my own life.
Paul writes to the church at Rome, “Therefore, 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. Do 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” (Romans 12:1-2 NIV).
When I first read this I thought something along the lines of, “Great! Another passage where God wants more of my time and my life.” And I was right. This is exactly what the Apostle Paul is saying. Every Christian is to take on the role of priest and offer their own lives to please God. This is the truest form of worship that a Christian can practice. So what do we have to gain from this?
Paul tells the church that they should not “conform any longer to the pattern of this world.” The pattern of the world has not changed much in 2,000 years—even with the advent of the internet. We are born, we are prepared to survive, we try to enjoy as much as we can in our time, and then we die. The world today still tries to make us believe that we need to live for ourselves and enjoy every minute of life because we don’t know when it will be our last. This is the pattern that makes sense based upon what we see in the world. So Paul says that we need to do something different.
“Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” The pattern of this world that teaches two basic things: 1) Survive as long as you can and 2) try to enjoy life while you can. But a mind that is renewed by God transforms the individual. It changes the way we view our purpose and value. It looks to something greater than ourselves—it looks to God. And when it looks to God it begins to see clearly. And then something else—previously hidden—is exposed.
Paul says that when our minds are renewed we will “be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Offering our lives as living sacrifices to God means putting aside the selfish tendencies for the sake of others. God says through the prophet Hosea, “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6 NIV). Our spiritual act of worship is to bring hope into the world in the name of Jesus. The fact that God desires us to help others speaks volumes about how much He cares for the people of this world.
His will is that none should perish (2 Peter 3:9), that He might take our burdens (Matthew 11:28-30), that we should live and not die (Ezekiel 18:32), and that we might know true joy (Revelation 21:1-5). His will, according to Paul, is “good, pleasing and perfect” for us. It is the pattern of this world to hinder, limit, degrade, and absolutely destroy the lives God has given us. By living for God entirely, we do not risk missing out on anything, in fact it is the only way that we can live our lives to the fullest.
I finally stopped resisting God’s command to give Him my all. I realized that giving my life to God didn’t mean giving up my life; it meant receiving it for the first time. I pray everyone would choose to live.
To find out more about La Vista Church, or to hear this and other messages, visit our website at www.lavistanaz.org or email me at email@example.com.
Please come join us as we fix our eyes on Jesus. We meet Sundays at 9AM for Sunday school and 10AM for worship. Everyone is welcome!