Lent Devotional: Romans 12:1
by Jonathan Haefs
Today’s devotional is authored by Emily Knight
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
How are we supposed to worship?
That’s one of many questions that flew across my mind when everything started shutting down. As classes transitioned to online instruction and my employers started scrambling to figure out a plan, I knew everything we called “normal” about our routines was about to change, and church would certainly be one of them.
And I think you and I have really felt that question grow during this time of self-isolation. God has worked in a gracious and mighty ways during this season, through live-streams and Zoom meetings and phone calls and prayer and study and dozens of other ways.
But we long for when we can return to worship together as a body, in person. And I think this verse helps us understand why — and maybe how we can worship in the interim.
Romans 12:1 sets out a radical paradigm for worship as Christians: it is embodied!
We present our bodies as living sacrifices. We are meant to involve ourselves as whole persons in the worship of the Lord. He doesn’t just care for us as hearts that love, or as minds that think, or wills that make decisions, but also as bodies who live and who die.
The suffering and sickness and death we see around our world matters to him, because He really does care about our bodies — after all, Christ came, had a body, and suffered unto death.
So, we are not completely whole as a church body when we are not able to gather in person. We were made to experience God through community in person, as persons.
And I think this verse also forces us to ask: what are we embodying with our lives as we wait to gather in worship again?
I think there’s a trap that easily ensnares during this interim, waiting period. The enemy whispers to us that our time stuck at home doesn’t count. Outside of our normal routine, whether life is busier or less busy than it’s ever been, the enemy wants us to think we aren’t really worshipping. It’s just an in-between time, he says, and your actions don’t matter.
I’m not sure how this lie may be tempting you… For me, it’s tempting me to withdraw from friends rather than to reach out, “because we’ll be together again soon enough.” Perhaps you have been fervently praying for loved ones who are suffering sickness, and the enemy wants you to believe your prayers are to no avail. Perhaps you are a healthcare worker, and the enemy is telling you your efforts to aid the suffering aren’t meaningful. Perhaps cooking one more meal at home seems like a thankless task.
But the truth is, we are always embodying something. As humans, we feel and think and act and do and decide – and these things that we do with our bodies, our lives, and our routines actually mean something! They are our acts of worship.
When we fight against the lie that our actions don’t matter, we worship God as the one who has imbued our lives with meaning in the ordinary.
In these days, may we attend to even the smallest of tasks as the greatest acts of worship. May we submit all we have to our Lord. May we cherish the humanity of Jesus, who bestows meaning to our embodied, everyday lives.
**May we also, as we ache to meet as a church body again, prayerfully stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who cannot meet in person because of persecution. Lord Jesus, we entrust the global church to your care and pray you would sustain them each day in your nearness to them.