What does any of this have to do with my world?
It’s a natural question, if perhaps a little narcissistic. For most of us, we weren’t persuaded to follow Jesus until it hit us personally. It had to make a difference in the real world.
For 11 chapters, Paul has been talking about Big Ideas. Creation. Fall. Sin. Justification. Salvation. Israel. Law. Spirit. He began with the big picture of God’s plan and God’s story, and with each passing chapter, he’s been zooming in, closer and closer to a particular point. Like zooming in on a map from the whole world down to your very own backyard.
And now in chapter 12 it comes to down to this community of believers in Rome (and by extension, you and me). It’s as if Paul is saying,
Because this is who God is and what he has done, this is what we do.
Because this is true, here’s how we respond.
Paul begins this in three parts in this chapter:
1–2 Present your bodies as a living sacrifice. This is Old Testament language. Leviticus language. Give it up. Lay it down.
3–8 Here’s one of several places that Paul uses the image of a body for the group of believers. It’s not meant to be an exhaustive list of spiritual gifts, but an illustration. Many parts and one body, all working to a single end. This is a diverse body, and it is a unified body.
9–21 And here is a litany of practical wisdom for living life. Love each other. Don’t be lazy. Show hospitality. Be joyful. Be patient. Pray like crazy. Share with believers in need. Hang out with the lowly. Take the initiative in getting along with each other.
This is what a life looks like when it’s presented as a living sacrifice to God.