Big Idea: The gospel transforms all of our relationships.
When you first meet someone, what do they need to know to understand you? Is it “excuse my language, I work in a plant”? “Look out for my temper, my mom was the same way”? Maybe “I always tell it like it is,” that coward’s way of masquerading cruelty as candor. Many people’s relationships are defined by their politics or their social group. But if we are a new humanity, rescued from sin by the good news of Jesus, what should define us?
Paul’s answer in Romans 12 is both obvious and challenging. Every relationship that we have is redefined in light of the gospel. The first verses are rightly famous. The word translated “service” in older translations and “worship” in the NLT refers to service in the Temple, the daily worship-work of the priests. We are a kind of spiritual priesthood, offering up ourselves as sacrifices of thanksgiving to God. Not dead sacrifices (because our sin has been removed and the power of death is broken), but living sacrifices.
The idea is a little gruesome for modern people, but imagine an animal being sacrificed. There were four horns on the corners of the altar, so the animal could be stretched out, helpless. Nowhere to hide and nothing left of its own, the entire sacrifice was given to God. Paul says that you and I are living sacrifices, exposed to God in the same way, no part of us hidden or reserved, all given to Him.
Our whole lives are the worship that flows from a transformed heart. In our churches, the gospel teaches us to serve one another. The gospel shows us how to love sincerely, honoring one another, working hard, serving the Lord. It teaches us to love our enemies and leave vengeance to God. As people who know our own sinful frailty, we are able to weep with the weepers and laugh with the laughers, never worried about our own station, but about the heart of the image-bearer of God before us. There is no part of our lives too mundane to be touched by the gospel, and no part we have any right to withhold from God.
Discussion Idea: Which of these practical commandments is the hardest for you? Why? How does it flow out of the basic call to genuine love? Does your family have any struggles in common?
Prayer Focus: Confess that specific weakness to God, and offer it as a living sacrifice.