12 1Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2
The life we live and the gifts we have been given to fulfill them are not the means of our salvation, but the result. They are the form of our faith and our worship of God who has rescued us in Jesus Christ. Like Jesus, Paul wrote;
“Offer your bodies…”
We think of worship as primarily spiritual, but Paul reminds us that spiritual life is life in the body, whether the body of Christ or in our own bodies. Human life is embodied, the body makes a difference. So Paul shows us that what has changed is that there are no longer sacrifices of bodies, but life in the body that we offer to God. God’s will of faithful, humble, love can only be tested in the body. It is through the body that we work out what we have received through the Spirit.
“This is worship…”
We think of worship as something that happens in church – and it does – but it doesn’t end when you leave the door. In the early church, leaving church had the meaning of going into the world which was opposed to grace. We do the same, but we do not always realize that to be the truth. We might want to learn more about our faith to see just how antagonistic our world is to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members and not all the members have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. 6 We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; 7 ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; 8 the encourager, in encouragement; the giver, in sincerity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness. Romans 12:3-8
When we speak of stewardship, this is a significant part of what we as Christians mean: How do I cultivate and steward all the gifts with which God has blessed me? My faith, my love, my generosity, and whatever else I do is first a gift, both as a calling and as God has empowered and gifted me to fulfill the task. A biblical scholar named Joseph Fitzmeyer writes on these verses: Everyday life is the realm in which Christians are to pay such worship to God the Father. [This worship]… should manifest itself concretely in a life in community or society based on humility and charity.
Fitzmeyer added: The lives of all Christians call for a proper, unselfish use of talents and spiritual gifts received. As an apostolic founder of Christian communities, Paul realized only too well the dangers to the community of elements in it that overestimated their worth. Hence he urges that each Christian, who lives by faith in Christ Jesus, be content with the function or role that he or she has been called to perform in the community and likewise respect the function or role of others. In doing so, Christians will display the proper respect for God himself and his gifts. For the function or role is measured by the faith that has been apportioned to each one. That faith is a gift and also calls for life together so that its full expression may work itself out in love (Gal 5:6).