Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – July 30, 2020
I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1-2
For most of my Christian life, “spiritual worship” always and exclusively was connected to the interior state of my heart and mind. The worship that the Lord loved the most had nothing to do with my body, or the created world in which we lived, but was instead rooted in the unseen intentions of the soul. And while these motives and desires are of course profoundly important and significant to our spiritual lives, they are in no way unconnected to the actual lives we lead and ways that we journey through the physical world. As I look at it now, it shocks me to realize how I could cling to one part of St. Paul’s teaching and entirely miss the point: “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”
Spiritual is not the opposite of physical. “Spiritual worship” is deeply and inseparably linked to the physical creation. It is a way of living within the created world that is infused and animated by the living presence of God in our midst. It is the realization that creation is not an end in and of itself but is meant, by design, to point beyond itself, to help us see the whole of life is received as a gift and meant to be offered back to God as an offering of thanksgiving and praise.
To be clear, our wider culture does not struggle to appreciate the created world. In fact, we are in many ways obsessed with it. We indulge our desires and senses in food and drink. We spend countless amounts of money pampering and conditioning our bodies. We in many ways worship the body and long for physical intimacy and connection at every turn. While this isn’t the disembodied spiritual Gnosticism I referenced above, I’m afraid it simply swings the pendulum to the other extreme!
Paul says we need a transformation, a completely new way of looking at the physical and spiritual and how the two relate to one another. We must learn the will of God in this area and, by his Spirit’s power, learn to walk in the way of wisdom. Paul tells us, “Do not be conformed to this world.” In light of what we’ve already discussed, I wonder if one primary application of this truth is simply this: your body is not primarily a means of feeling pleasure or fulfilling personal desires but is a God-given way for you to love others just as he has loved you. This transformation begins when you choose to sacrifice your personal desires and creature comforts for the good of others. When you give away your time, talent, and treasure to those in need, you begin to learn what is good and pleasing to God. And when you see the way your physical actions can bless others and bring change and renewal in the world, you begin to offer worship that is truly spiritual.
Father, teach us what it means to present our bodies to you as a form of true spiritual worship, we pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.
How can you today choose to offer your soul and body to God as an act of worship?
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Spiritual is not the opposite of physical. “Spiritual worship” is deeply and inseparably linked to the physical creation. #wisdomhunters #spiritualworship #truth #Jesus
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