In Romans 12 Paul writes, “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.” Our life is to be lived in deep gratitude and awareness for the blessings God lavishes on us. This is not our sake alone, but to share to extend our blessings our life to our brothers and sisters. God has given us some very clear instructions on how to live. These include things like the command to love one another (John 13:34-35), the call to follow Him at the cost of denying our self (Matthew 16:24), the exhortation to care for the poor and needy (James 1:27), the list goes on. Jesus summed up a life lived with God like this: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40).
Soren Kierkegaard said, “What is essential Christianity! From first to last, it is a scandal, the divine scandal. Every time someone risks scandal of high order there is joy in heaven.” We should live our lives as a divine scandal, we should follow Jesus not to cause a scandal but to cause joy in heaven, which the world will see as a scandal. The world doesn’t want you to follow Jesus, the world wants to control you and tell you what to buy, think, and do but as Christians, we must deny self and the world and shape our lives around Jesus. By trusting that God loves us in spite ourselves, what has happened to us and what we’ve done and that He loves us so much that He will not let us stay that way we cause a scandal. Our worthiness lies not in the strength of our will, but in the steadfastness of God’s love, which is simply too fierce to leave you unchanged.
The Gospel is the good news that God hasn’t given up on us and will heal and transform us into His hands and feet in the world. The gospel says you and I matter and there is a massive rescue operation at work in the world today. The Gospel says Jesus forsook heaven to heal and reconcile earth to God, to instigate an epic renewal of all things.
We are not in control. God is and that is not an altogether bad thing, though it is tough to release the control of our life. It’s much better and easier when we do. We can stop pretending that we have power over reality. We can stop pretending that we are special. We can and should admit our powerlessness and surrender to God’s will for our life. We can and should stop pretending we are more than we are.
I would like things to be a certain way and I am shocked, angered, and saddened when life doesn’t go the way I think it should. The process of letting go of how I believe things should be and just surrendering to God’s will for my life is ongoing and maybe a lifelong endeavor. I need to realize not only with my head, but also deep in my heart and soul that God loves me his plan works mine doesn’t. I want a better job, my own place, and a loving and healthy relationship, but these things have not come my way, yet. Maybe, I am being tested refined by God for some great work or he is transforming me into the kind of person who can handle these blessings. I may be being prepared for my time at seminary. I need to trust God more. I need to be willing to go where God will send me and not just be open to it, but also prepared for it.
Our lives should shock and astonish people in a good way. They should see how we live and wonder how and why we live as we do. So, my prayer for you and I is that we live as a divine scandal and present ourselves as a living sacrifice as living worship to the glory of God.
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- Tagged: Christainity, Christian life, essential christianity, Following Jesus, gospel, Gospel of john, Gospel of Matthew, James 1:27, Jesus, John 13:34-35, living sacrifice, love neighbor, Matthew 16:24, Matthew 22:37-40, Religion, Romans, Romans 12, soren kierkegaard, Spirituality, theology