Random Blog Clay Feet: January 06, 2008
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Sunday, January 06, 2008


Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. (Romans 12:1 )

I want to visit this word therefore again. As I said previously it is an alerting word that what is being said here must be understood in the context of what has already been presented. So what are some of the important things that have already been said that need to be remembered here?

In my multi-month intense study of this book to date I have learned that Paul is addressing two main classes of sinners – secular sinners and religious sinners. And while there are significant differences in how each class exhibits the effects of sin in their lives there is one option that he is presenting to cure the problems of both classes – the gospel, the good news about God, the real truth about how He feels about and relates to us contrary to all the lies both secular and religious in nature that we have been immersed in all our lives. That is the larger context of what is written ahead of this passage.

The closer context of the past few verses contain a number of key points that give reason for him to say therefore. In this part of the book he has begun to move from exposing the nature of the problems in both classes to explaining God's solution for our problem with sin. He has addressed the divisive issue of whether or not a person is part of God's previously chosen, select nation of Israel and reveals how God is reshaping from that original trunk a tree that contains much more than the normal branches originally connected to it. There has come a time of heavy pruning and dramatic grafting due to the choices of the majority of Jews to reject God's original plan for their nation. God has moved on to form a new “nation”, an extension from the original trunk of Judaism but greatly expanded, filled with a massive influx of Gentiles from all over the world. This was prophesied to happen in Old Testament writings and is now coming to pass. It is a revelation of the new covenant that God had foretold.

Even more pertinent to this verse and those following is Paul's exclamation of wonder over the staggering wisdom and extravagant love that God is displaying in the revelation of the gospel (11:33-36). Paul has caught a glimpse into the extravagant grace of God in ways that most of us cannot imagine, and it became the all-consuming, driving passion of his life. Though Paul was one of the most intelligent and highly trained scholars of his time thoroughly versed in Old Testament knowledge as well as conversant with much of what was considered the high wisdom of the world in his day, in contrast to the revelation of God's ways and plans he felt that all of his own knowledge and wisdom was less than worthless; he considered it merely scum by contrast.

Paul is obsessed in wanting us to focus on what God wants all of us to perceive. He itemizes the various aspects about God's plans and thinking that create the backdrop for this word therefore so that we will be motivated to respond from appreciation and love. He mentions God's wisdom, His knowledge, His judgments and His ways. He points out that no one should begin to assume that they are smart enough to give God advice or that they can make God indebted to them for anything, a reference to the assumptions behind much of religious activity. Then he makes it crystal clear what God's position is in relation to all the rest of the universe; everything comes from Him, everything continues to exist through Him and everything revolves around Him and is designed to be oriented toward Him. I believe this is also an allusion to the past, the present and the future and God's ability to perfectly see and relate to all of them with the same ease and insight.

This passage is a revelation of reality and a glimpse into our original DNA for existence. To our sin-warped, selfish hearts it may appear that God is the ultimate egomaniac only wanting everything and everyone to serve His needs, the ultimate selfish brat spoiled beyond help. That is certainly what the great accuser wants us to believe. But it is one of the great deceptions that masks the truth about God in our hearts. For the real truth is that we can only find real satisfaction in living in an outward direction in unselfish service to others and glorifying our loving Creator which is how He has always lived.

The original design of all creation was to live in complete and perfect harmony and support of each other. All things are designed to receive with gratitude and give with joy. That is the perfect image of the One who created all things to reflect His own character and function. The Trinity lives in unbroken harmony in passionate love and serving toward each other and everything else in creation. There is not the slightest hint of selfishness at all in the Godhead and creation was simply an extension, an expansion of this principle so that the love and joy that they experienced within the Trinity could be replicated on a much grander scale in the perfect atmosphere of freedom. The joy was so intense and wonderful that they wanted to amplify it by creating more opportunities for it to grow. That was the original design of all creation throughout the universe.

When Lucifer introduced an alternate scheme and claimed to have a better plan than the delicate balance of joy and love in freedom that kept all creation in perfect balance, sin came into existence and its evil, diabolic effects have become more and more clearly seen as the experiment has progressed. But even in the face of this staggering, tragic story since the fall of Lucifer to become the raving accuser, Satan who viciously and subtly does everything possible to defame and distort the reputation of God, God has never changed in the slightest. His character has always been that of perfect love, He has always contained all wisdom and knowledge and nothing catches Him by surprise or ruffles His feathers. He has always been far more than capable of having a response to every lie and attack that Satan can conceive against Him and the revelation of His abilities and purity and true nature of love is the means that He always uses to draw back to Himself all those deceived by the rebellion.

In the light of the increasing revelation of the beauty and loving wisdom of the Lord of all creation, Paul says therefore – this is the reasonable response we should have. Now that it has become more clear what our real condition is in the light of heaven and laid out in the previous chapters in this book, now that we understand God's real attitude toward all sinners and His desire and plan to restore us to a thriving, joy-filled life in harmony with the rest of the universe and in unity with the emerging body of Christ; our natural response to all of this is to surrender control of our lives to the One who longs to heal and restore us into the intimate, satisfying, joy-filled relationship with His heart that we were designed to enjoy. This is choosing life instead of slow death.

And what does this look like? That is what is coming in the following verses. It involves choosing consciously to present our bodies and minds to the One who can restore and heal us and graft us into close connection with the trunk that supplies the life-producing sap in His tree (11:16-25). It means learning what real worship is like in place of the distorted ideas of worship that we have attempted in our traditions and religious bigotry. It means focusing on life and becoming more and more alive in connection with the Source of life instead of focusing on death-producing attitudes and practices in our previous way of life. It means learning what God really wants, what is acceptable to Him and how we can really enter into a relationship the way He designed instead of following our own rigid ideas of obedience and attempts to impress or appease the twisted notions of God that we had.

In essence, our response to God's offer of salvation (which is what this whole book is about) is to enter into, in every area of our existence, a dynamic, growing, deepening relationship with the only One who can restore, heal and transform us back into the fullness of life that we were designed to enjoy. We are to release our notions and attempts at forcing ourselves into conformity to an apparent external obedience to Law; that has proven to be a dead-end road. Instead we are invited to explore and prove by personal experience what a transformed life will look like that reflects the truth about God. That is the invitation that Paul and God is making to each one of us at this transition point in the book of Romans.

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