Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Romans 12:1-2 (1) in view of God's mercy

A month ago, I prayed a dangerous prayer: that God would make me single-hearted. I prayed desperately, with tears, all too aware of how double-hearted I am, how I want Jesus' glory but also my own. I prayed nervously, because this is the kind of prayer God delights to answer, and it's not always comfortable.

Three days later, God answered my prayer as I sat in an echoey hall and listened to a talk on
Romans 12:1-2 by Steve Chong at MTS Challenge Victoria. I've already told you one of the results: how I'm taking a break from blogging so I can work out how best to serve God and make Jesus known.

But how did I arrive at this decision? In 4 short parts, during the next 4 weeks, I'd like to tell you about the impact the talk had on me, one phrase from
Romans 12:1-2 at a time. Here's part 1.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2

"in view of God's mercy"

We are not do-ers. We are receivers. We receive therefore we do. Everything we do, we do in view of God's mercy.

There are 2 things that are true of Christian service:

  • service is always responding to what God has done
  • service is always joining in on what God is doing.

Service is a bit like catching a wave. Surfing isn't about paddling as hard as you can. It's about getting in the right position to catch the wave when it comes. In the same way, service isn't about working as hard as I can to get it all done. It's about getting my heart ready for God to use me.

There's an incredible pull to make ministry all about me. My Bible talk, my small group, my mentoring relationship, my blog. But service isn't about me. It's about God.

I serve others in response to God's mercy to me in Jesus.

images is from stock.xchng


Cathy said...

This is a great encouragement and a great challenge, Jean. Thank you.

I have been musing a bit lately about how natural it is to build abstract ministries (if we are keen on the idea of ministry)...thinking of them in terms of skill sets and activities we enjoy.

But, we're called not to be pleasing ourselves, but to be building up our brothers and sisters, for their own good(Rm 15). Sometimes what I want to be doing is not what is most useful for building up the people God has put in close proximity to me.

This sounds much more like wave catching to me! I'll be glad to read your follow up posts, Jean.

Valori said...

Great post, Jean. Love that truth and that verse. Our work must flow from his mercy -- we can't work to earn grace (like your perfectionism post -- to which I can totally relate).

I've probably shared this quote with you before, but it's one of my favorites. I love it because it makes it all simple. The work that we do that brings him glory is the work that flows from our dependence on him and our faith in him and his gospel. Any work that we do apart from faith is only something we do to seek our only glory -- whether in earning something or just plain old wanting the credit! Anyway, now for the quote :).

What men do by themselves, they do for themselves. They eat their own fruit, devour the praise of what they do. The Christian only that doth all by Christ, doth all for Christ. He hath his sap from Christ, into whom he is graffed, that makes him fruitful; and therefore he reserves all the fruit he bears for him. (William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armour, Volume 1, p. 320)

Pat said...

Found this in a search regarding Romans 12. You say it very well. I've come to the same conclusion as you but the grace view is hard to find anywhere. I have a blog at word press.