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Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Spiritual Worship

Stepping back a bit from my previous post about Romans 12, I think it's interesting to get some context from the whole chapter.

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 (ESV)

What I see here is that Paul is going to give us some instructions on how to live a life fully committed to God, not only in spiritual things but also in the physical realm (so, not just thinking nice thoughts, but actually taking action). He prepares us for a mental paradigm shift, then he goes on in the next few verses to explain that in the body of Christ (meaning, all who has put our faith in Him, not the head and torso and arms and legs and hands and feet he had when he walked on the Earth) has lots of members with different functions to perform, different jobs to hold, and all of them are important.

Then we get to that passage I mentioned last time starting in verse 9. There are 13 verses from there to the end of the chapter, and I noticed something interesting. Out of the 13 verses, I only see two verses that are about doing something solitary. "Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord." (verse 11) "Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer." (verse 12). The rest of the verses are all about how we treat other people! We love them (9-10), we take care of their needs (13), we bless them, even the mean ones (14), we empathize with them (15), we are friendly even to the ones that are different from us personally (16, 18), and we choose to treat them well even if they treat us badly (17, 19-21). All that stuff in verses 6-8 - prophecy, teaching, exhorting (persuading people), giving lots of money, leadership, all of the things we tend to think are cool important things that we want to do - all of that stuff winds up being secondary to just being able to treat people like Christ treated them.

To come back full circle - this chapter started off telling us how to worship God with our whole selves, even our bodies. We each have gifts and callings, but in the end, it is doing physical acts of service for others that somehow turns around and becomes a spiritual act of worship to God!

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