Yesterday we were introduced to the practical section of Pauls’ magnum opus: chapters 12-16. The opening verse, as most English translators put it, starts out with “therefore.” Because of all he’s done for us, this is what type of people you should be and how you should act.
The first thing we should do, the umbrella under which everything else follows, is to offer a sacrifice to him. Not a dead animal; he wants living human sacrifices now. Both once-and-for-all at the moment of salvation, and moment-by-moment as we live in this sin-wrecked world, we’re to be given over to him as completely as one of those animals burning on the altar.
Paul says that this, as the NIV puts it, is our “true and proper” worship. This phrase translates the Greek word Logiken, which is related to the word “logical.” That’s why the NKJV translates it as “reasonable,” and most other translations at least present it at least as an alternative. After all he’s done for you, it’s only reasonable for you to offer yourself to him.
The other way to render it, as per most translations, is as “spiritual.” The NIV Study Bible says it’s “[not] merely ritual activity but the involvement of heart, mind and will.” That’s why the newest version of the NIV translates as it “true and proper,” trying to capture both meanings, which is certainly appropriate.
Whether Paul means “reasonable” or “spiritual” (as in from the heart), I’d like to focus on the last word of today’s verse: “worship.” The word, latreian, as per several translations, can also be rendered as “service,” which makes sense. There’s a reason Christians commonly call what we do on Sunday morning the “worship service,” and the NASB even combines the two words together for clarification: “service of worship.”
The reason I’m going into such detail in the last paragraph is because I sincerely believe that we really need to expand our understanding of worship. Yes, I believe in meeting with other believers in a local body to worship on Sunday morning (or whatever day, I’m not particular about which day it is). We need that. American Christians are often so caught up in a “Jesus and me” mentality that they don’t realize that they’re part of the Body of Christ. The idea that you can have a personal relationship with Christ without being actively plugged into the Body of Christ is a concept completely foreign to the Bible.
But. . .
Worship is more, much much more, than what you do on Sunday. It’s meant to be a lifestyle. It’s a moment by moment decision that you make to give yourself over to him, completely and permanently.
Let me be specific.
When you see a person in need and (in the name of Jesus) reach out and help them, the Lord takes that as act of worship. When you take concrete steps to deal with that sinful habit that you keep falling into, that’s an act of worship. When you start the day off by praying “Father God, today I’m reporting for duty. Whatever you want me to do, wherever you want me to go, whomever you want me help, whatever burden you want me to pick up or lay down, the answer's ‘yes,’” that’s an act of worship.
And when you worship, both from your heart and soul and in the power of the Spirit, the Lord Jesus takes your (highly imperfect) act of service and makes it acceptable before the Father.
And your Father watches. And smiles.
Lord Jesus, I want to worship you. I want to be living human sacrifice. You might call upon me to die for you, but until then I’m going to do the much harder thing: live for you. By your grace.