How Should We Then Live? — Part Two
Its first point is more relational than directional: it’s in the exhortation to “present your bodies a living sacrifice.” Right relationship with God rests on this “presentation.” We are independent, free-thinking humans, and God will not exercise lordship over us without our consent. Being born again, being saved, becoming a Christian — whatever language you are comfortable with — it all begins when we surrender our lives to God through Jesus Christ. We accept His sacrifice for our sins, and in return, we sacrifice ourselves to Him. But we are not like the sacrifices of old that died on the altar — we continue to live for him. Believing in God and belonging to God are not the same thing.
The second and third lessons from the chapter are in the words “conform” and “transform” (KJV). We are told not to conform to the world, but rather to allow ourselves to be transformed, by the renewing of our minds.
There\’s a great cartoon in January\’s Reader’s Digest: a psychiatrist is advising his patient to visualize an Applications folder in his mind. “Okay, do you see the file labeled Suicidal Thoughts?” he asks. “Just click on that and drag it over to the trash icon…”
It really is similar to that. We live in a fallen world, a fallen system, and it must be purged from our minds and replaced with the Gospel. We have to learn to tell the difference between what God values and what the world values — and realize why they aren’t the same. Why do we have to do this? The first reason, of course, is to place us in right relationship with God, but the text goes on to describe a secondary reason: “so that we might prove what is that good and acceptable will of God.”
Prove to whom? The rest of the world; we are to be examples of what God expects from people. My whole life belongs to Him and He wants to use me as an example. This is the root of Paul’s teaching that we must live not by our own conscience, but by another\’s. What I do in my life is always examined by its effect on others. How well does it reflect God\’s will?
Once this “presentation” is done and we have begun to actively reject the world, replacing it with God\’s plan, we can move on to more specific things. In verse three, we are told to cultivate humility, then Paul begins to teach on what is perhaps the most important aspect of how to live: the Body of Christ.
When Paul looked for the best analogy to explain a Christian’s place in this world, he found the human body. Christianity was never meant to be a solitary experience, and when you become a Christian, you must come into contact with other believers to fulfill the purposes of your life. In the same way that a human body could not function with a torso in Georgia, a head somewhere in California, and the arms and legs scattered around the Midwest, neither can the Body — nor its individual parts — function properly when detached from each other. They soon wither and die. So your first task as a Christian is to seek fellowship with other Christians. After that, the things Paul taught in the next few verses will largely happen by themselves.
Are you called to preach? Then you will begin to develop a desire and an ability to preach. Are you called to administrate? You will. Are you called to teach? You will. Are you called to serve? Serve. Called to give? Give.
Let the Holy Spirit work to develop the gifts God has placed within you, so that you can function in His Body. You need to do this, not only for yourself, but for others, as they too are drawn into the body to receive and give. You have what they need. You need what they have.