I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God….For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. (Romans 12:1-5)
In view of the mercies of God (ie salvation, forgiveness, the gift of Life) , the Apostle Paul tells us that the proper response is to present our bodies as a living sacrifice…unto God.
Where do we make this presentation of our bodies unto God? How would we walk out the implications of this verse? I want to fully offer myself to God, how do I do it?
Notice that this opening verse leads directly to a discussion about the body of Christ, and how the parts of it, interact with one another. I believe that our “reasonable service” unto God, is played out in the context of finding yourself a place in the Church, to function in your own particular spiritual gift (charismata).
We offer ourselves to him as ” living sacrifices”. We were dead , but God has raised us from death, unto life. Jesus has made our lives to be Holy and acceptable to God.
We have been called out of this world. In the context of Christian fellowship and teaching, we undergo a discipleship, which transforms us from inside out, by the renewing of the mind. We are seeking the perfect will of God, for our lives (there is one, definitely).
Christian discipleship is humbling, as Paul points out in this very passage,
For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. (Romans 12:3)
The acceptance of the gospel allows us to evaluate ourselves in the light, illusions about ourselves have been burst. We are sinners, but we thank God for giving us this faith, this capacity to receive the grace He has given us in Jesus.
And we realize also that we are not “Lone Rangers”, we are members of the one body. We need each other, and we need to give and receive of that measure of faith, among each other. We are literally “members one of another”.
This is the way our reasonable service is worked out, it is how and where we present ourselves, unto the body of believers in Jesus.
We learn that each member of the body has a different function, and has received from the LORD a uniquely functioning gift,(Charismata).The gifts are considered “graces” and they are not given to the bearer , but to the body of Jesus through the bearer.
Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. ( Romans 12:6-8)
Some among us will have the gifting to prophesy, other’s are gifted to simply serve. There are those whose gift is teaching, (but not all). Within the church there are exhorters (encouragers). I have seen those whose spiritual grace is to give. There will be organizers, cheerer uppers, and those whose tender hearts minister mercy to the hurting.
Even in the smallest body of believers, God will have granted these Charisma, (grace gifts) for the edification of the body. Think of how full, beautiful and complete our assemblies will be if we learn to recognize and cultivate such gifts among us!
Think of a body of people, worshippers of Jesus, and not trying to be Great, or the “in People” or even the”power people”, just willing to be simple Christians. But within their assembly there is spiritual encouragement, tender mercy, penetrating insights, a willingness to help carry the load, and as many other unique ‘gifting’ or motivations as there are people there. What a church! This is what we want to be.
I have seen people in churches do things such as ;sneak money that was needed into other people’s Bibles, jump in and help each other move, give each other right on exhortations that could only be characterized as ‘prophetic’, cry with those who cry, pray for each other over long seasons of trial and sorrow, serve each other, heal each other, and so much more.
The Holy Spirit, in the Church equips believers, granting these Spiritual ‘graces’, and they will function if we learn how to meet in such a way or to live in such a way as to recognize this in each other, and the freedom to operate this way.
These are not natural characteristics, although I grant that there are some people who are naturally insightful, tender hearted, or encouraging by nature. But the Apostle Paul is clear, that these are Spiritual gifts, which God distributes throughout his church. They are inspired motivations and tendency and when they function, the church is built up in this dark, loveless world.
The Least you can do in view of the mercy and Grace of God, is to become a member of some expression of the Church, no matter how small, and begin to function in the flow of Divine Life. Get with a body, pray about your ‘charisma’ gift, commits yourself to be a giving, growing member, and play out your Christian life.