Therefore, 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.Romans 12:1
That is what we sing in that great hymn, When I Survey The Wondrous Cross: It closes,
Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.
That is what Paul is urging us to do here. He says God is interested in you bringing your body and making it available to him. When he says to
present your bodies, he uses what the Greeks call the aorist tense. That means it is something you do once for all; it is not something you do over and over again. You do it once, and then you set the rest of your life on that basis. So there comes a time when God wants you to bring your bodies to him.
It amazes me that God would ever want our bodies. Why does he want my body? I can hardly stand it myself, at times! But God says,
Bring your body. Perhaps the most amazing thing is that Paul has been talking about the body all the way through this section of Romans. He tells us the body is the seat of what he calls
the flesh, that antagonistic inclination within us that does not like what God likes and does not want to do what God wants. We all have it, and somehow it is located in or connected with the body. Our body is the source of temptation. It is what grows weak and wobbly. That God would want this is amazing! And yet he does.
Some of us, I know, feel like saying,
Lord, surely you don't want this body! Let me tell you something about it! It smells and snores. It has a bad heart, Lord. It has a dirty mind. You don't want this body. I have trouble with this body. It is always tripping me up. My spirit is great, and I worship you with my soul -- but the body, Lord, that's what gets me down! But the Lord says,
Bring your body. I know all about it. I know more about it than you do. I know all the things you tell me about it plus some things you haven't learned yet. Let me tell you something. By means of the blood of Jesus, and by the work of the Holy Spirit, I have made it holy and pleasing to God.
That is the beautiful appeal of this verse. It is not telling us we have to get all cleaned up and get our lives straightened out in every way and become perfect before we can offer ourselves to God. Paul's word is,
I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer yourselves as living sacrifices. Bring your bodies (that is what it says in the Greek word — your bodies, not yourselves) as a living sacrifice unto God. Bring it, with all its problems, with all the difficulty you have with it, with all the temptations and all — bring it just the way it is! I don't know how that affects you, but that encourages me greatly. All the other religions that I know of in the world tell us that somehow we have to straighten out our lives first, and then offer them to God. God never talks that way. He says,
You come to me just the way you are. I am the answer to your problems; therefore, you must start with me. You can't handle those problems yourself. Don't start with thinking you have to get them straightened out. Come to me, because I have the answers for your problems.
Thank you, Father, that you invite me to come to you just as I am, with my whole self, including my body.
How essential is the surrender of our bodies to the whole and integrated person? How does the sacrifice of our bodies affect our spiritual worship? How does it fulfill God's good, acceptable and perfect will?