OUR REASONABLE SERVICE

In Romans 12:1 Paul instructs those of us who believe in Jesus Christ to offer our bodies as living sacrifices. He then justifies this instruction with the words ‘this is your reasonable act of worship’.

In various English translations this reads as:

‘your reasonable service’ (KJV).
‘your spiritual act of worship’ (1984 NIV, with ‘reasonable’ in the footnote).
‘your true and proper worship’ (2011 NIV).

This presentation of our lives to God is the logical, rational, response to the truth we now know.

It is the only life that fits with our confession that Jesus Christ is Lord.
It is the only life that fits with the soul or heart of the Gospel of God’s gift of righteousness apart from law.
It is the only life that runs in tandem with the relationship with God in which we now stand in Christ.

It’s a ‘no-brainer’ – if Jesus is who he is and has done what he did, then of course we ought to live our whole lives for him. Any other conclusion, any other response, uncovers a serious failure in what we believe about Jesus Christ.

We find similar logical (rational, reasonable) instructions elsewhere in the New Testament, where the apostles make a direct, logical connection between the truth about Jesus and his saving death, and the lifestyle and mindset that is appropriate for those with such a Lord and such a salvation.

Paul: We are united with Christ in his death and resurrection (Romans 6:1 – 11), therefore we should not let sin reign in our bodies, we should not offer the parts of our bodies to sin as instruments of wickedness, but rather, we should offer our bodies to God as instruments of righteousness (Romans 6:12, 13).

Paul: ‘You are not your own; you were bought with a price. Therefore honour God with your body’ (1Corinthians 6:19, 20).

Paul: ‘I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received’ (Ephesians 4:1).

Paul: ‘If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ ... then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love ... Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus ...’ (Philippians 2:1, 2, 5).

Paul: ‘Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set you hearts on things above ... Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things ... Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature ...’ (Colossians 3:1, 2, 5).

Peter: ‘But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do’ (1Peter 1:15).

Peter: ‘You have been born again ... through the living and enduring word of God. ... Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit ...’ (1Peter 1:23, 2:1).

John: ‘How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! ...Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure’ (1John 3:1, 3).

In the beginning God created us in his image (Genesis 1:26, 27). As humans our true identity, our human glory, was to reflect in our own being and living the grand and glorious reality that is God. But when we disconnected from God in Genesis 3 we lost our ability to live out this role and this responsibility.

Now here in Romans 12:1 Paul urges us re-embrace that role and responsibility: to reflect in our being and our living the grand reality of who God is and what he has done. To live a life that is the logical, rational, reasonable response to so great a God, who has revealed himself in and through his Son Jesus Christ, and to so great a salvation, in which God has redeemed and restored us through that same Son in an action of immeasurable grace, reconciling us to himself by an irrevocable and incontestable declaration of acquittal.

The accuracy and integrity of our understanding and beliefs about God and his mercy will be expressed in how willing we are to present our bodies, our lives, to him, as the only logical, reasonable response. The evidence of our lives declares the value, the worth, that we place on God and the salvation he has freely given to us in Christ.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2020