True and Proper Worship
Our goal for living is based on the concept of true and proper worship expressed in Romans 12: 1 & 2:
“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)
When considering the meaning and implications of a particular passage of scripture it is wise to include it in the context in which the Holy Spirit placed it. Please note that I did not say, “We must examine the context in which the writer placed it.” Although it is important to consider the work of the author we must remember that all Scripture was inspired by the Holy Spirit. Even as I write this small article it would be meaningless unless I am led and inspired in my thinking and writing. So while it may appear that I am using means of critical analysis of the text and the context we must trust that the ultimate message of this article will be some level of revelation from God through the Holy Spirit.
When “Therefore” is used to introduce a passage of scripture it is usually a good idea to discover what proceeds the passage. We need to discover the reason the “therefore” is there for. In this case, Paul has just completed a very, very intense passage explaining the means that God has brought about salvation through disobedience:
“For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.” (Romans 11: 32 NIV)
Paul then expresses in the form of a doxology the great mystery of “depth of riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” (Romans 11: 33 NIV)
Paul is over-awed by what God has done and is in the process of doing. God’s love and mercy are far beyond our understanding or ability to grasp or discover. We are in the midst of the great working of God. From this acknowledgement of God’s awesome work of love and mercy the only reasonable response from us is to offer ourselves as means to be used by God to carry out His plans. We prepare to enter into working toward God’s plans by allowing Him to transform our minds from the pattern of the world into His perfect pattern.
But let us not stop with considering the context of this passage just from the framework of God’s love and mercy compelling us to yield to His plan. Let us go a little further into the context to discover just what that plan entails:
“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” (Romans 12: 4, 5 NIV)
Paul goes on to include some of the gifts that God has placed in the body of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit through individual members called to follow particular gifts. These gifts are specifically for the benefit of the body of Christ as a whole so that the plans and purposes of God will go forward and the kingdom of God will be advanced.
This context is not completed with the description of the gifts used to enhance the body of Christ. The overall context of the way in which these gifts must operate is summarized as love expressing itself by loving each other:
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” (Romans 12: 9, 10 NIV)
We began this article with the idea that true and proper worship is an expression of “our goal for living.” We will conclude with the idea that the reason we can make true and proper worship our goal for living is that good is stronger than evil and will overcome it:
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12: 21 NIV)