“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice – the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him.” – Romans 12:1 (NLT)
And this same verse in the Passion translation: “Beloved friends, what should be our proper response to God’s marvelous mercies? To surrender yourselves to God to be His sacred, living sacrifices. And live in holiness, experiencing all that delights His heart. For this becomes your genuine expression of worship.”
I love the way the Passion states this verse, because it draws the emphasis to living a holy life, sacrificed unto the Lord. Fully surrendered. Living according to what pleases Him as our most sacred and most important act of worship. There is no greater form of worship, no other more genuine form, than to live a life modeled after the Lord. How do we do this? Well, Paul tells us in the very next verse (going back to the NLT for this one).
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” – Romans 12:2 (NLT)
Some translations say, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world.” What does that word mean? I’m going to share the definition I feel is most relevant in this time: “behave according to socially acceptable conventions or standards.”
“Socially acceptable.” This is definitely something we hear a lot about today. Things like homosexuality, preferred pronouns, abortion. There are so many things I could list because the list goes on and on. There are so many evil things in the sight of the Lord that the world has said, “Wait, we recognize this as good and acceptable and pleasing. This is what we, the society, want. This is our standard.” And man do they hold that standard high! If only the church would walk in the same dedication to their faith that these people have towards their ideologies.
We as believers are called – commanded – to live a life that does not match the pattern of the world. A life that does not match the socially acceptable ideologies of this world. We are called to stand out, to be the fish who swim up stream when everyone else is just going with the flow of life. To go against the grain. Yet, I see the opposite happening.
Instead of standing out and being separate, we are trying to fit in and blend in. Even our church services model concerts that are focused on an “experience” rather than an encounter with the Lord. We don’t want to be made uncomfortable. We don’t want things to be awkward. We want something quick and entertaining that doesn’t require anything of us.
But if your life does not look different from the world, then I question the validity and authenticity of your faith. If you refuse to stand up for the truth because you don’t want to stand out, then I question your devotion and loyalty to the Lord. Because when you reject the Truth, you reject God Himself. You reject Jesus, who literally said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6).
Have we forgotten this, or simply just not been taught this? Because I see and know a lot of people who think they are on the path to Heaven, but in reality they are on the fast track to hell. If our lives do not model the most genuine form of worship, then our lives are meaningless.
“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.” – Romans 12:9
“Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.” – Romans 12:21