by Jeff Curtis
As my life’s careers have taken me through several arenas of places to work, I have come to appreciate Romans 12:1-2 more and more. People who work a public job would ask me, how I could justify working around people in the public sector who didn’t seem to have much faith. In my response I would often recite this particular verse and tell them, “I have to live in this world, but I don’t have to live like this world.” I had to work to provide for my family. This passage has me thinking quite a bit. Now that we are in “Livestream” mode, I hope and pray Christians to get too comfortable not being at the services of our Lord. Paul writes here: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:1-2).
Whatever we do for the Lord should involve thinking. We must never serve Him in a ritualistic, automatic way. When I worked for Cook’s Pest Control, I would, at times have several miles of nothing but driving. On more than one occasion, I would find myself realizing that I couldn’t remember the last several miles. It is dangerous to drive when you are in a daze. It is also dangerous to serve God in a daze. When we worship God, our minds need to be focused on Him and on what we are doing. The same is true of all our service to Him.
Writers have gone to extremes interpreting the word “service.” Some have insisted that the Greek word only refers to general “service” to God and doesn’t mean “worship.” To exclude any element of worship from the Greek word latreia in Romans 12:1 seems extreme. In this verse, Paul was talking about presenting our bodies as a sacrifice to God; he was using worship language.
Others suppose that Romans 12:1 teaches that “all of life is worship” and have reached unwarranted conclusions about “worship services.” For example, some have decided that, if “all of life is worship,” there is no need to assemble together for worship. That conclusion contradicts Hebrews 10:25. We have some brethren (not here, I hope), that view the “Livestream” as a good alternative to assembling with the saints.
A few insist that if a certain activity is all right for a Christian in his everyday life, it acceptable to it when “the whole church assembles together” (1Corinthians 14:23) for worship. This assumption is truly false. For instance, there is nothing wrong with women talking and teaching in a day-to-day setting, but they “are to keep silent in the churches [assemblies]… because it is improper for a woman to speak in the assembly” (1Corthians 14:34-35). Again, an individual might have both coffee and grape juice as a beverage during a common meal, but to include coffee with the fruit of the vine while observing the Lord’s Supper would desecrate that memorial feast. Some distinction must be made between what we might call “corporate worship” (the church coming together for worship) and our individual, personal, private service to God.
The message of Romans 12:1 lies somewhere between the two extremes mentioned. What should we learn from Paul’s statement that offering our bodies as living sacrifices is our “spiritual [or reasonable] service worship?” Probably, we should learn many things, including the following:
- We shouldn’t make too fine a distinction between “the sacred” and “the secular.” Bring up children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4) is as sacred task as preparing a sermon. Being conscientious about a weekly job, doing it “heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men” (Col. 3:23) is as sacred as writing a religious article.
- Whatever we do, we need to be aware that we are always in the presence of God- and we must act accordingly. If an individual is a different person on Monday through Saturday than they are on Sunday, they cannot worship God “in spirit and truth” on Sunday.
- We should make a conscientious effort to glorify God in everything we do. It does matter whether we are rearing our children, preparing a sermon, working a daily job, writing a bulletin, or doing something else. Jesus said, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Paul wrote, “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1Corinthians 10:31).