Becoming a Living Sacrifice – Thoughts from Curtis Zackery
The greatest thing that we can celebrate together is the beauty of the great love and grace that Christ has shown us. Because of His great mercies, our proper response is to be what Paul calls a “living sacrifice.”
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. (Romans 12:1)
Although this is our instruction, a “living sacrifice” on its surface is actually an oxymoron. Because of what we see throughout the book of Romans prior to this verse, we understand that this isn’t truly the case. The power of the Holy Spirit actually allows us to be both alive and a sacrifice simultaneously. We are “alive” in Christ and according to His desires and purposes for us. We are also “dead” because we have sacrificed our way and plans for the better ones God has for us. Of course, we realize that because of our flesh that this is an extremely difficult prospect. Thankfully, the verse continues on to show us how He can help us to accomplish this.
Imagine yourself holding a lump of clay. Let’s pretend that you were asked to CONFORM that lump of clay into a ball. I think we can begin to visualize what it would look like in our mind’s eye to do this. We’d begin to roll the clay around in our hands until it started to make a round shape, thus becoming our best representation of a ball. Now, imagine that you were asked to TRANSFORM this clay into a ball. On its surface, it may seem like the same request, but when we examine what is really being asked, we recognize that this would be something completely different. To conform the clay would be to make it take the shape of something. To transform the clay would be to turn the clay itself into something completely different altogether.
We have the power to conform. Only God has the power to transform.
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 12:2)
In this verse, we are reminded that our goal isn’t to take the shape of the world that we see around us but to allow the Lord to redeem and make us new in the midst of it. This is amazing news. In our humanity, we can attempt to change our behaviors, but this type of effort cannot be sustained. God, on the other hand, graciously restores us from the inside out. He does this by reforming and renewing the way we think, reason and understand things.
The verse goes on to say that when these things become true about our lives, it actually helps us to discern, or figure out, what the Lord desires for us. If we allow the Lord to truly transform us from the inside out, we will discern together what He desires for us to be for and in our city!
What does it look like for you or your family to exist as “living sacrifices”?