Romans 12:1-2 - I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
What is it like to be a Christian? That's the question St. Paul answered in chapters 12-13 of his letter to the Romans. It's the fullest description in the entire Bible of what it takes to be a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ.
Following Christ does not mean substituting a new set of "don'ts" for the old set. People whose minds have been remodeled by God from within through life-giving faith in Jesus Christ are free of the restraints of old, distorted values and old, false standards. Those who follow Christ are free to love and worship God by giving expression to the victorious faith in Christ that centers their lives in Him.
When Paul talked about worship, he was not thinking about high altars, stained-glass windows, and the music of mighty organs. He was not even thinking of the old-time sacrifices, where blood flowed upon a stone altar as the symbolic offering of a man to his God. He was talking about a real offering where a man offers himself in the freedom of his inmost being, a sacrifice made possible by Christ Himself, and made acceptable to God by Christ, who offered Himself in this same way for us all.
But God does not impose this upon you. He appeals to you. He appeals through Paul, and He appeals today through me. God's mercies are for all. His mercies are for you. God sent His Son to seek and to save you. In Christ, God is for you. He is ready to give you a new and free life through faith in His Son. These are His mercies toward you. With those mercies in full view, don't hesitate to present your body, your life, as a living sacrifice to God.
What is it like to be a Christian? It's knowing the forgiveness of God that has been won for you by His Son Jesus through His life, death, and resurrection. The old is gone; the new has come. And all this is the gift of God (see Ephesians 2:8).
"For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with Him in a resurrection like His. We know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death He died He died to sin, once for all, but the life He lives He lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus" (Romans 6:5-11).
THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, raise us to newness of life in Your Son. In Jesus' Name we pray. Amen.
From "Definitely Different," a sermon excerpt from Rev. Dr. Oswald Hoffmann, former Speaker of The Lutheran Hour
1. What are five traits (at least) that we should possess as Christians?
2. What is it about Jesus that appeals to you?
3. It's been said that "Christians are in the world but not of it." What does that mean to you?