Many of you have inquired whether Morning Reflections will continue now that I am leaving FPCOKC. Of course they will! This is my personal ministry, above and beyond what I do at the church! I love writing and I cannot imagine stopping. I have also had some of you inquire about wanting to donatie to ensure this ministry continues. I will look into a PayPal button or something.
So turning to our scripture in Romans today….
Christians exist in a world of irony, and the scripture to which we cling often represents this irony in metaphor. We sacrifice ourselves but we are alive. In the cross we find life. By his wounds we are healed. When we die in our baptism, then we have new life.
Romans provides us a new chapter of our understanding of God, where grace and love triumph over sin’s power. We are asked to present ourselves as “living sacrifices”. Paul paints a new picture for us – one in which our whole bodies are offered up for service – and our minds too.
When I think about Paul and his life I am struck by the radical nature of his use of “living sacrifice”. This is not a part-time job to him. It is a complete relinquishing of his agenda to Christ’s. He spent his life building up churches and traveling around, encouraging them in the faith. It was an extraordinarily hard life, according to all accounts.
What does it mean to be Christian in today’s society? How are we to relinquish our lives to serve the one who gave it all? I think about the extraordinary outpouring of God’s grace that he has shown to my current ministry context and the high volume of dedicated disciples that I have at my disposal.
But then I think about other pockets of the Church, and I wonder what happened. It seems that much of the Church in North America is somewhat sleepy when it comes to Christ’s mission.
What does it mean to be a living sacrifice in 21st Century America? How are we to live to die, and die so that we might live?
I’m not sure the metaphor of sacrifice is one that resonates with us – people who live 2000 years after Temple sacrifices were the order of the day. How about, instead of “living sacrifice” we think of it as a complete organ transplant. This is no mere biopsy, where God cuts out a little part of our lives he doesn’t like. This is not a touch of plastic surgery, where God mends an unsightly scar from ages past. No, this is a radical change for us. It is a complete transformation of self. Our heart is no longer ours, but Christ’s. When we eat, we feed Christ’s body. When we walk and talk, we have become an extension of Christ’s will for the world.
When we truly die to live, we may find our whole lives uprooted – and a new era of love, generosity, and selflessness taking root in our lives and in our world.