Is it a matter of giving money to organizations? Is worshipping God attending the proper number of services where congregations come together to sing and listen to thought-provoking sermons? Perhaps healing the sick and feeding the poor is worship, or traveling overseas to preach the Gospel in foreign lands. Before we can regard these factors as worship, one other element has to take place first.
In Romans 12:1, Paul writes about how gracious God had been to us, and because of His immense mercy toward us, we offer ourselves as living sacrifices. There’s a bunch of truths packed into this verse. Let’s take it apart piece by piece.
Romans 12:1 (NIV)
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
The first thing Paul addresses is the urgency of the matter; he is presenting a serious condition without the qualifying factor. He next clarifies to whom he is speaking: his brothers and sisters. Here is a community of close-knit believers, so close that they acknowledge each other as family. If you are a part of such a group of people, God has blessed you. Nurture each other, hold yourselves accountable to one another, and listen for instructions from the voice of the Master.
The third phrase calls our attention to the one consideration, which affects our hearts the most; it is the unparalleled, undiminishing, inescapable love of Christ toward us- so unfathomable as to show mercy where mercy is not deserved.
To offer our bodies a living sacrifice is a demonstrated response to the outpouring of His kindness. We want to present ourselves. Not as an obligation or enforcement but from immense gratitude. Here’s the hook. He wants a living sacrifice, not a dead one. I don’t think God will fill heaven with indifferent people, do you? People with a passion for knowing and fervently desiring to be like Jesus will occupy the visible presence of God.
Offering our bodies encapsulates our entire self. An excellent example of this is the life of Samuel. Samuel’s mother dedicated her son to serve a holy God in the one place Hannah thought was a safe and productive environment- the church. In those days, they did not call the worship place, the church; they called it the temple where prayers and sacrifices occurred and where God met with the priest in the Most Holy Place.
You might think Samuel’s circumstance differs vastly from ours, but not so much. Corruption and vile influences were present in the lives of Eli’s sons while Samuel grew up.
What Jesus is calling for, is for you and me to put the world aside and dedicate our entire being to be His and His alone. Without that kind of commitment, worship is only a ritual. If you want to worship God, you must offer yourself as a living, moving, vibrant sacrifice. Then behold what God can do in and through your life.