January 23, 2019- Sacrifice, Vocation, All Parts of One Body- Romans 12:1-8

body of christ

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.

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.  For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.  Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Romans 12:1-8 (ESV)

It has been said that the problem with living sacrifices is that they are always wriggling themselves off of the altar. We do not live the Christian life perfectly. Thankfully in Christ, because we are baptized, and made children of God by faith, we can start each day knowing that He is renewing our minds and giving us hearts of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26) in exchange for our hearts of stone.  We can trust that he forgives our sins and He gives us the strength to face a new day every day.  God works this transformation in us through the Holy Spirit.

We walk a balancing act between being sinner and saint. As Paul said in Romans 8, we do the things we know we shouldn’t do, and we don’t do the things we should do.  Even so, God has created each of us as an individual with a set of strengths and a set of weaknesses.  Everyone has been given a vocation- a reason for being and a reason for doing- which should complement the vocations of others. A farmer grows grain for the baker to bake bread.  Drivers transport raw materials so that factory workers can fabricate and assemble machines and cars and other things.  Police and firefighters keep order and respond to emergencies.  We have vocations in both the earthly kingdom and God’s kingdom.  Sometimes they intersect, but we are made to embrace and pursue our vocations to the glory of God.

Paul has a complementary view of how we are to work together at being the Body of Christ. Some of us are positively not suited for doing certain things.   Not everyone is in the position to volunteer to go do missions in Africa for a year, or to do plumbing and carpentry work, or to bake cookies.  Some people have the gift of hospitality, or the ability to go abroad do missions work, but others may be more able to give financially, or teach, or encourage.  Everyone has equally valid – though necessarily different and varied- vocations that we have been gifted with to serve God.

We have every reason as God’s people to appreciate and thank God for the gifts we have been given. We are also called to appreciate and thank God for the gifts God has given others, especially the gifts they share that with us we do not possess.  We serve others out of a joyful response to God’s goodness, no matter what our gifts may be.

May 12, 2017 -What Difference Does It Make? Psalm 19:1-4

cosmos

The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.  Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard;  Yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.- Psalm 19:1-4 (NRSV)

My son was never much for learning about anything he couldn’t see, feel and most importantly, apply. It was difficult to convince him of the importance of learning history, for instance, because he didn’t see events in the past as being relevant to his life.  To him it didn’t matter in the slightest who started World War I, or who was president in 1983- except that those events and those people in history really do affect his life.  We all live with the decisions and the consequences of the actions of others in the past.

Now that he is older and has taken much interest in engineering and physics (things one can generally see, feel and apply) he has learned that in some way, even though it might not be readily noticeable or even perceptible, everything affects everything else in some way. One of the major quests in theoretical physics today is something physicists refer to as the “Theory of Everything.”  Supposedly there is a magic equation that explains the birth, evolution and interaction of all time and space and matter, and so forth.  Perhaps it should be possible to prove in an equation that all creation is interrelated, but as people of faith we trust that it all comes forth from the same all powerful God.

flowers

It is curious how science and religion are not so far apart, and how in so many ways they complement rather than contradict each other.

This is the reason why we study Scripture- so that we can connect to God’s story and carry it on. The lives of the people in the Biblical narrative are still touching and changing lives today, through us.  God moves and works in and through His people.  This is part of the Good News of the Gospel, that because Jesus has risen and defeated death and the grave, we are free to live too.

For good or for ill, we are all part of the same creation. What we do and who we are matters.  God created us for a distinct purpose.  God the Creator is clearly revealed in His creation.

How is God being revealed in our lives today?