I’ve picked out Romans chapter 12:1-8 for us to read today because I think there’s some really great stuff in here.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, 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 renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgement, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.
One of the post communion prayers is one of my favourite in the Common Worship Communion service:
“We thank you for feeding us with the body and blood of your Son Jesus Christ. Through him we offer you our souls and bodies to be a living sacrifice.”
This idea of us being a sacrifice to God while we are still alive on earth is the heart of what Paul is trying to say in the first part of this passage. Ultimately Jesus calls us to give over our lives (our souls and our bodies) to do God’s work on earth, and that we should leave everything to be his disciples.
I then really like the detail in the second paragraph here where Paul acknowledges that God gives us all different gifts to go about doing this. Some of us will be leaders and teachers, others will more quietly spread God’s compassion and approach ministry less overtly. What kind of person do you consider yourself to be?
This passage also stresses the importance of a united church. None of us can manage doing all that God asks of us alone. I don’t want to portray the CU officer group as anything near a perfect example, but look how a successful house party is the result of lots of people with different roles, personalities and approaches all coming together. The wider church is a bit like this too – Christians are a team; we have different functions, and together we make up one body of Christ, united with a common aim.
A prayer for today: Heavenly Father, we thank you for the bounteous gifts that you have given each of us. May you guide and help us use them in ways to strengthen your church on earth, and play our part to unite Christians so that we might serve you better. Amen.