{Romans 12:1-2; ESV}

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.

Jesus commissioned us to make disciples of all nations.

If we were to evaluate how well the church in the United States was doing this task we would conclude that we are not doing a very good job. The reason we would think this is because the number of people who are attending weekly worship and identify as Christian is declining.

I know there are several reasons for this reality, but I think a major one has to do with this passage from Romans. Our ineffectiveness can be traced to our conformity to the world. What does the church have to offer if we are just a watered down version of the world?

Maybe that is not true for you, but it is certainly true for me. I have lived a life that has been full of movies, video games, sports, and politics. In many ways my life has looked just like any other person of my generation. I think it is important to admit that it is easy to get sucked into the culture we live in.

I can easily justify this reality by claiming freedom; “I am free to do this! After all it isn’t a sin.”

That maybe true, but I recall the apostle Paul writing something about things being permissible but not being beneficial (1 Corinthians 6:12 and 10:23). Just because we are allowed to do something doesn’t mean that we should do it. What is the benefit of the hundreds of hours I have devoted to entertainment? In that time have I served another person or grown in my knowledge and understanding of God?

The question we need to ask more often is: What is the benefit of this__________ (activity, possession, entertainment)?

Pursue those things that benefit your faith and reject those things that become a distraction. If we do not do this we will find ourselves constantly conforming to the ways of the world.

How do we keep from being conformed to this world?

What should jump out at us from this passage is that sacrifice, offering our lives to God in response to His mercy and grace, is what helps prevent us from being conformed to the pattern of this world. The act of surrendering to God allows us to experience the transformation of our minds and desires.

The reason many of us are conformed to the culture, making us resemble the likeness of the world rather than God, is because we have refused to offer ourselves as living sacrifices. If we cannot sacrifice we cannot be transformed; the two go together.

I wonder if the reason we aren’t sacrificing is because God’s mercy and grace mean so little to us? After all Paul says it is because of God’s mercies that we should offer ourselves as living sacrifices.

It is my belief that many of us want God to save us from our sins so we can pursue the life that we want to live without worrying about the consequences of sin. The result is that we give little or no thought to the life God created us to live. The comfortable life I want to create for myself is more important to me than the faithful, and at times difficult, life God created me to live. When I do this it shows that I do not value the mercy and grace of God very much.

If we are thankful for the grace and mercy of God then it will be reflected in the way we live. Be a living sacrifice, don’t conform to the world and in that way be transformed into the new person God created you to be.

Questions to consider:

  • How effective is the American Church at making disciples?
  • What obstacles do you experience in the transformation of your life?
  • Have you fully surrendered your life to God?

 

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