So, the chapters we read today mark a change in direction for the book of Romans. Paul has completed his more theological discussion and turns to more practical matters. Here’s the honest truth, all of what Paul has to say for last four chapters of this amazing book hinges on how he beings chapter 12. If you are not willing to offer yourself (all of yourself) as a living sacrifice to God, then everything Paul has to say about ethics, unity in the body of Christ, loving others and putting others first by putting aside selfishness, will 1) seem out of reach (for you cannot do those things under your own power) or 2) seem kind of stuffy, out of date and even ludicrous.
That’s a danger we must be aware of as Christians. If we are not really committed to following Jesus, then we run the risk of one (or even both) of those things taking root in our lives. Either we start to work out our faith on our own power because we are not really walking with the Holy Spirit on a daily basis, or we shove the expectations of God aside as antiquated and out of date. The sad truth is Satan is quite happy with either possibility.
I have been mulling over something that we read earlier in the week from 2 Corinthians 5. Paul wrote that no matter where we are in our journey, whether we are alive (at home in the body) or dead (away with the Lord) our one and only aim should be to please him. Everything that Paul writes in the latter part of Romans has to do with living and conducting ourselves in ways that are pleasing to Christ.
I’m currently reading a book called Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman. In it, he draws a fairly clear and even a bit severe distinction between being a fan of Jesus and a committed follower of Jesus. One of the first points he makes is that following Jesus pretty much always costs us something; and if it is not costing us anything or interfering with our lives, then we really should consider the depth of our commitment. That may seem extreme, but when you read those words from Romans 12 does Paul make being a living sacrifice seem easy? Not really. “Do not be conformed to this age”. Last time I checked, anytime you buck conformity it costs you something. Social status, mocking comments, risk to job or friendships.
I wonder just how seriously we take what Paul is talking about here. I’m not just asking that question to be all pastory or drive guilt on you. It’s a question I’m really struggling with myself at the moment. How much sacrifice am I actually making for Jesus? Might be a good question to ponder.
- What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
- What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
- Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
- How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
- What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?
Tomorrow’s Reading: Romans 14-16