Through the Bible in a Year – March 4

The Scheme for March and April can be found here

Lev 6-7; Romans 12-13; Psalm 79

We move from the Sacrifice of Leviticus – to the response to God’s mercy – that we present our bodies as living Sacrifices – holy and acceptable to God – which is your ‘Reasonable’ or ‘Spiritual’ act of worship.

The Greek word here can be translated either way. Of course in view of God’s mercy – it is Entirely reasonable – were it not for the fact that sacrificing ourselves goes against everything the world tells us to do. In the twisted understanding of wider culture – self sacrifice is at times pathologised – we feel sorry for those who live their lives for others and not for themselves.

We say they have missed out on so much – and the siren voices warn us against such ‘reasonable’ acts of worship. Thus our churches are by and large comfortable clubs for the religiously inclined – rather than communities which in their mutual love and service one for the other cause the passer by to shake their heads and pity us for such ‘sad behaviour’

The Risen Christ says ‘unless you deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple’. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer puts it – when Christ bids a man come, he bids him come and die.’ It is that dying, that is not the end of our discipleship – but its beginning. the Christian Life begins with the surrender of our lives – this is our reasonable act of worship. It is only then that we begin the long hard work of the battle with sin – indeed, without that response to Christ, to die and so live, we will not embark on that battle.

Unfortunately . . . no, that is far to weak . . . Tragically, we have substituted religious formulas, intellectual assents to doctrines for the obedience to Christ’s call. The New Life is Christ is unknown to us, for we are content with a religious version of our old life.

Paul towards the end of chapter 12 of Romans unpacks what such a life looks like. There is no ‘sitting around’ enjoying the presence of ‘god’ about it. There is nothing about having the correct doctrines – rather it is embodied obedience – the Body has been offered to God – so Love is the hallmark, indeed we are to compete with one another in this – challenging one another to love more and more – we give and give – contributing to the needs of our brothers and sisters, giving hospitality, not to our friends, but to strangers – we feed our hungry enemies, we overcome evil with Good. Thus in our Living we enter into the Triumph of the one who by laying down his life overcame the final enemy, death, itself.

The Christian walk has not begun until this sacrifice has been made.

Of course, it is hard to stomach in an age so full of itself, but our forebears knew and lived better . . .

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