Are you familiar with Romans 12:1 and 2…the verses that talk to us about how the best way we can worship God is to lay our lives down?
When I meditate on this passage, it seems I have committed the version from the NIV to memory.
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. Do not conform 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 NIV
Because words make pictures in my head, I have always imagined that Paul was encouraging us to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice on account of God’s mercy….
so more in these terms…
Therefore, I want to strongly encourage you brothers and sisters, out of motivation based on God’s mercy, that you would offer your bodies as a living sacrifice….etc etc etc
But I have been reading a sweet book called The Mercy Prayer by Robert Gelinas and I am taking a whole new look at mercy and how much we need it just to live here on planet earth; and also how much God gives it to us with abundance when we ask for it.
And I look back at that passage and I see these words in a new way…a different way….
the part about “in view of”…I start to see it not as “because of” but more like “in the sight of” … the “being seen in light of” …
that God looks upon me and you with a mercy outlook.
Therefore, I want to encourage you brothers and sisters, as you are being seen by God with the lens of His mercy toward you….
Does that make a difference to you?
That we are not being asked to lay down our lives as a payback for His mercy, we are being encouraged to lay down our lives in the safety and love and grace OF that infinite mercy that is viewing us and all we do.
We can trust that our efforts to lay down our lives each day will not depend on how well we do it, but that we are offering all that we are in faith that His mercy will cover over our imperfections with grace so that our flawed selves will become holy and acceptable, as we attempt to give Him the glory and honor due Him in a way that is pleasing to Him.
I love looking at different translations and the one from Eugene Peterson’s The Message has great wording for my simple mind:
So here’s what I want you to do,
God helping you
(Do you see that? Can you see that His mercy is there to help us?)
Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering.
Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.
(There it is again…His mercy…watching us as we make the effort to let go of the reins of our lives and allow Him to reign over us ALL under His eyes/sight/attending MERCY)
Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.
Instead, fix your attention on God.
You’ll be changed from the inside out.
Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it.
Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
Romans 12:1-2 The Message
It is in view of His mercy that we offer our lives…
it is in the looking-on of His mercy that we separate ourselves out of the mess of and …
the immaturity of a culture run rogue…
and allow God to bring out the best in each of us.
We can be mature and we can be wise as we lay down our agendas, plans, and preferences IN THE Sight OF His mercy and allow God to fit us not only for His Kingdom but to be influencers for good in this present day.
So brothers and sisters, today I urge you…be aware of God’s mercy toward you, understanding He is viewing you through eyes of MERCY….
as you offer your daily activities to Him, fixing your attention on Him.
Perhaps if we focused more on His mercy and less on the “level of immaturity” that abounds…we truly would begin to be the best version of us.