Romans 12:1-3 (NLT)
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. 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.
The concept of “living sacrifices” is a lost concept in the world today. To be a living sacrifice, one must decide to give up their way and live Christ’s way. We surrender our life to Jesus Christ. He does not callously take it though He has every right to. He simply whispers, “Whosever come” with a nail-scarred hand extended. By taking hold of Jesus Christ, we are turning (repenting) from our former way of life to fully embrace our new life IN Jesus. Most do so to escape their former purposeless life and to live for something greater. They do so with high expectations of fame and fortune in this higher standard of living called Christianity. Don’t worry. You are not alone. As it was in the days of Noah and then Jesus, it is today. Noah lived a righteous life. He did not engage in the world enjoying all it had to offer but sought God. When God told him that a great flood was coming and to build an ark, he did because Noah believed God and trusted Him. He gave up acceptance, affirmation and approval in this life to live forever. What are we giving up? To be a sacrifice requires personal loss. We do so for greater gain. Sacrifice is uncomfortable but isn’t that always the case when it comes to dramatic change. Give your bodies to God because of all that He has done for you. Let them be living and holy sacrifices the kind that the Lord finds acceptable. This is how we worship.
I heard of a local pastor who had been arrested for fraud. I am appalled…not judgmental mind you…but totally appalled. I am filled with dismay but not shocked at all. Over the years, the stories of ministers, pastors, apostles, Christians and more who have been put in the spotlight for indiscretions is ridiculous. The Body of Christ is torn about by religious factions rather than joined together by the Love of Christ. Pastors forced from the pulpit by controlling boards. There are three major corporations that usually govern the church. That’s funny. I thought Jesus Christ was the Head of the Body of Christ. Money has become a sore subject. The fall of the mega church bringing many down to desperate measures. Infidelity and fraud are common words in the circles of our sanctuaries. If you do not like the curtains or the carpet, move on. If the music doesn’t suit your fancy, go somewhere else. We have forgotten the race of faith due to the fierce competition among fellowships. We are missing the mark because everyone has their own agenda. The Cross and Blood wiped out of the sanctuary as not to offend. Rather than Living Water, the people are fed tap water to keep them in place and companies (I mean churches) flourishing. There are no living sacrifices any longer just a broken body. I am sad. I am mad. I am ready for the Body of Christ to be healed and made whole. I am ready to be believers not Christians. I am ready to manufacture miracles and not money. I am ready and willing to do my part but what about the rest of the body…
I Corinthians 11:28-32 (NLT)
That is why you should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking the cup. For if you eat the bread or drink the cup without honoring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking God’s judgment upon yourself. That is why many of you are weak and sick and some have even died. But if we would examine ourselves, we would not be judged by God in this way. Yet when we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned along with the world.
The broken body we call church is my responsibility. I am totally to blame for its failure. I will glory in its success. When I mentioned the most recent pastoral arrest, it is without judgment. I am filled with sorrow at the souls who will turn and walk away. They found Jesus and now judge Him by our appearance. We are no better than the rest of the world in our attitude and actions so why bother with change. IF I am truly interested in strengthening and building the Body of Christ, it begins with me. Not my pastor, not my friends, not even my family – it is a “me decision”. Why? To become one body requires the ultimate sacrifice. When I married my husband, I handed him my life and he handed me his so now we live one life. It is the same with Christ. The problem is we want all that He has and give nothing in return. Or we give what we want rather than sacrificing our all. We gorge on the Bread of Life but keep it for ourselves. We gulp Living Water but never let it overflow. We are dysfunctional and paralyzed limbs on a Body that has great potential. My mother-in-love recently had a terrible accident on a treadmill that left her with a broken right wrist and broken left ankle. Badly fractured both required corrective surgery. As her bones healed and physical therapy began she stayed in an assisted nursing facility because she needed help with living skills as all of us work and were afraid for her to be home alone. The cast on her arm came off first. To her surprise, not only did her wrist not want to bend and move, but all her fingers would not move either. Her elbow was sore from being immobile for six weeks as well. She was so discouraged. As the therapist began to work with her arm, it slowly has begun to gain mobility. Her arm is but a single limb of her whole body. It has many parts that work together to do doing her bidding daily. She did not realize how much they did or how well they worked together until nothing worked at all. She had the power to move her arm and make it work for her. She now has committed her time and energy to doing so again. As we examine our life, we must see what is not working as it should according to the Word of God and invite His Holy Spirit to work it out inside of us without opposition from our flesh. Just as my trip to the eye doctor two weeks ago revealed vision loss that I did not know I had, so will the Spirit open our eyes to those areas of our life without from God’s Power and Purpose. But unless we are willing to invest time and energy in making the change and surrendering our life to Christ once more – the body will remain broken and useless.
I Corinthians 12:12-13 (NLT)
The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.
The human body has many parts. The sum of our parts make up the whole body. The Body of Christ is the same. There are many, many parts. We all have been baptized into one body by one Spirit. We all share the same Spirit. If you allow these words to sink in, it becomes obvious that the behavior of the church does not honor Jesus Christ anymore. It is as if we take an ax and chop off our hand when it does not do what we want and move on. (I Corinthians 2:14-21) You may stop the bleeding and live but you will forever be handicapped by your lack of the limb. You can even overcome the disability but you will never be a whole body again which requires both arms. We must stop making excuses for church splits and denominational divisions to get it together. It doesn’t matter what everyone else thinks and says about you just God only Jesus and the Spirit that lives inside of you. Be concerned about your relationship with God as much as you are about people and things will begin to change. You will prosper in your soul and connect the Body of Christ without even focusing on such an endeavor. When the Body of Christ is shamed by one of its members – we are all shamed.
I Corinthians 12:26 (NLT)
If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.
If we could fully grasp the meaning of this one verse pertaining to the Body of Christ, we would take a dramatic step in the right direction for reconciliation of the Body as a whole. The divisions rising in the church today are concerning. I was recently working on the guest list for our daughter’s wedding compiling the lists of names and addresses, my heart began to break at those who were missing. The ones who could not be invited as not to offend this person or antagonize that one. There were those who would not come because of this person or that one. There will be invitations that go out left unanswered because the people in that family do not want to be around others who are coming. We are believers. The groom’s family as well. Most everyone coming to the wedding call themselves “Christians” including family and friends. Yet the picture of the church becomes evident in something as simple as this. Church of Jesus Christ we have a problem. We must stop the bleeding and fix the problem. Jesus is coming back. I do not want to be fearful of His Returning but rejoice in His Coming. We have got to get it together and fast. There is a bigger wedding coming called the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
I Corinthians 12:4-11 (NLT)
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice[b]; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.
While preparing dinner one night, my daughter and I were chatting about her day at school. She began to tell me about a kid at her school. In her description of the boy, she called him cripple. I stopped her as I felt the need to help her with a more appropriate term for the boy’s condition other than “cripple”. I asked her why she called him that and she relayed that he uses a set of crutches to get around. She was not derogatory or condescending in any way just trying to paint a clearer picture. So I asked her what about words like “handicap” instead of “crippled”. She informed me that he was not handicapped as he did not have the parking sign. Huh? My daughter thought that the little car tag hanging from your mirror or the emblem on your tag were people who were handicapped. She thought it was a label. We all laughed at her concept and moved on but it occurs to me now that the Body has one disability and that is sin. But we are acting handicapped as a choice, because we have adopted such behavior. We have the Power of Almighty God living in us but refuse to let him out. We would rather use grace as an excuse rather than empowerment. John Bevere put it best when he said, “Grace is not given merely to cover up our irreverence and sin; it is given to empower us to serve God acceptably.”
God’s Spirit that is alive and well inside each one who calls on the Name of Jesus Christ is for our immediate empowerment and fulfillment of His Purpose. He is a guarantee of every single promise that God has given us and works to guide us in the Plan that has been written for our complete success as we live by faith with confident hope in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness never excusing it. We overcome this world by the Power of God in us. WE have been given a long list of gifts to use while we live for Jesus Christ. Is anyone using them anymore? Or do we cry like the leeches – more, more, more? I want more grace so I can keep sinning. I want more of you Lord so I can have more money. We have been given spiritual gifts to do spiritual things the first of which is to unite the Body of Christ for His Glory…how are you doing with that? Excuse me as I examine my own heart and repent for what I have done or more importantly…not done.
Romans 12:3-5 (NLT)
Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.
It is my personal privilege to serve God. He has given me His Authority and Power. I must honestly evaluate my own life and not the lives of other people including spiritual leaders. I must measure my life according to the faith that I have been given and work to cultivate confident hope in Jesus Christ alone. My actions and attitudes do not only represent me and my family but my Lord and Savior – Jesus Christ. Does my life demonstrate the Love of God to all mankind? This is Good News. This is God’s Plan and Purpose for my life to share the Gospel with the world. How am I doing? Does my life and love for others represent the Unfailing Love that I have found or the ordinary love given in this world? It is a cold love with a lack of commitment leaving broken hearts and lives along is ragged course. Am I any different in the way that I love others including family, friends and others I know? Do I show love to perfect strangers by offering random acts of kindness based on God’s Goodness in my life? What about my enemies? There is only one. I must forgive those who I have marked as my enemies because Jesus loves them and died for them, too. I do not want to be the one that renders the Body of Jesus useless in this dying world. Love covers a multitude of sin. Wrapping our lives in love will allow us to see past sin to human hearts with the compassion of Jesus Christ. Only those who choose to sacrifice their lives to be living sacrifices to the Lord will ever know such joy and peace in fulfilling their purpose in the Body of Christ. (Verses 6-8) If you are called to do something for God (which you are – we all are), then do it well! Do it all the time. Do it consistently. Do not stop doing it. We have to get this thing together. (Verses 9-18) Think about this – if we do not do what we are called to do – then we live a lie and life of rebellion. If we would do what we are created to do, do it with all our heart, do it as unto the Lord with all motivation – the church would grow as our soul prospers so would we as a Body.
Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
I cut my hand with a knife preparing dinner not too long ago. It was a deep cut about an inch in width. I went to the local emergency room quite sure it would need some assistance to heal. The doctor looked at the cut. Since it was a clean cut with a sharp knife, he was able to use the new skin glue to close the wound. Several years back, I cut my foot with a chainsaw. (Long Story) The edges of the cut had to be cut again before they could sew my foot back together. It was not a large cut the Lord was watching after me that day. So after anesthetizing the area they took sharp scissors re-approximating the edges so they would fit neatly together to ensure proper healing. The jagged skin would not heal properly but the clean lines of the fresh cut would. That cut healed perfectly as well leaving only a faint line where the cut once was. Why all this graphic discussion? Some of the obstacles in our life keeping us from becoming a thriving Body again will only require coming together in love and holding tightly to Christ as we learn to love each other unconditionally. Some parts of the body will require more invasive procedures that require a change of direction in our personal walk with Jesus Christ as well as the Body in which we learn, serve and worship. It may be painful to realize that our heart has become hard and self-seeking but the full potential in our success as a thriving body will only come at the expense of self. We are to be living sacrifices. We are to live in harmony with ALL BELIEVERS. We are all guilty of sin – thankfully most of the time it will not be on news. We must learn to live in love with Jesus Christ and spread that love around. (Ephesians 3:6-7) Jesus is working in us and through us to make His Body whole again. We have the potential to fit together perfectly if we let go of personal agendas, stop worrying about personal profit, and begin to spread the Gospel and equip the saints as instructed. Jesus Christ died so we would be peacefully united together in Him. (Ephesians 2:14-16) Are we living at peace with all mankind? “Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-13) People I have fallen down on the job. Church we have fallen down as a whole. It is time to mature in the Lord and stop being selfish children. If you want the life you have been promised, we must become a healthy, whole body that is growing and prospering in love.
Colossians 3:14-17 (NLT)
Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.