Third Sunday after the Epiphany
Psalm 19 (The law revives the soul); Nehemiah 2:1-10 (Nehemiah seeks the welfare of Israel); Romans 12:1-8 (One body in Christ)
In many, mostly ancient, religious traditions worship revolves around a sacrifice. In order to appease their god, or gain blessing from him/her, the worshiper would bring an animal which the priest would kill in the appropriate fashion. Parts of the animal were offered to the god being worshiped, which often became food for the priest, and the rest of the animal was returned to the worshiper for a meal, or the meat was sold in the market. This is one of the major reasons why we read about controversies over eating meat in the book of 1 Corinthians. With that understanding of a sacrifice in the religious sense, Paul’s words in Romans give us pause.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform 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) As followers of Christ we are recipients of God’s mercy and grace which came about because of the sacrifice of Jesus. If His sacrifice brought us mercy and grace, our “living” sacrifice should then be a way of bringing mercy and grace to others. We become a living sacrifice, then, by renewing our mind and being able to show God’s will to others daily. Our lives should be designed to draw others to God. Our lives should show God’s grace and mercy to others who need to experience His forgiveness. This world abounds in condemnation. As followers of Christ we are not to conform to the practice of this world and condemn others, we are to be agents of His good, pleasing, and perfect will. We are to be agents of His mercy and grace. It’s not an easy job, especially in the middle of rush hour or when we are dealing with “those” people. It is why we are called to be living sacrifices, though. We willingly undertake the responsibility of showing God’s love and grace to people who are just as ornery as we once were.
Make my life a living sacrifice, O Lord. May my life not only be pleasing to You, but may I draw others to Your mercy and grace as I reflect Your love towards others. Help me avoid conforming to the desire to condemn others and let my life lead others to fellowship with You.