So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. – Romans 12:1-2 (The Message)
For those that have spent a significant amount of time in Christianity this is a passage that will be very familiar (although possibly not from this translation). These two verses from Romans are some of the most famous Paul has ever penned. They’ve been put on bumper stickers, magnets, t-shirts, coffee mugs, and paper weights. They’ve made the rounds at the local Christian Bookstore and Holiday gift exchange. They’ve been preached upon, blogged upon, and written upon. People have composed songs about them and sung them to God’s glory. We’ve encountered them so much that they’ve almost become too common, too routine, too popular. Yet take another look at the way Eugene Peterson translates them in The Message:
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering….
Read the words again, over and over. Meditate on them. Pray over them. Soak them in and live them out. Because verses, these few simple words sum up the Christian life is so many ways. The Christian life is not about making the most out of Christmas and Easter or properly understanding and experiencing the seasons of Advent or Lent. It’s not about practicing the spiritual disciplines properly or joining a bible study. It’s not about going on a short term mission trip or volunteering to keep the kids in the nursery on Sunday morning. It’s not about moments of sacrifice or good deeds. Christianity is about transformation. It’s about taking your everyday life, and all the moments included in that everyday life, and making them an offering to God. It’s about changing the way you live, not just your actions, but your thoughts and attitude. It’s about turning everything over to God, and letting him so guide you that he controls your responses to life’s situations.
But it’s even about more than that. It’s about being so transformed that you are different from the culture around you. Not just listening to Christian music, or not going to see trashy movies, or not cussing when you get angry. It’s noticing everyone and recognizing their worth, whether the CEO of the company you work for or the homeless man whom you pass every morning begging for food. It’s leading your company or team not in a manner that demands your own way but in a manner that helps everyone on your team reach their full potential. It’s recognizing that true change doesn’t come by grasping after power and forcing others to your way of thinking, but by serving others in a peaceful way that leads to reconciliation. It’s about living your life among culture and yet different from culture so that others ask you why. And when they do you have an opportunity to respond with the hope that you have in Christ.
Christianity is not about grand speeches or amazing service projects, but about everyday moment transformations that slowly over time help you to reflect Christ more and more.
Here’s a resolution for the new year worth keeping. With God’s help, take your ordinary life, and all that in entails, and give it over to God as an offering. Don’t act just like everyone else around you, but fix your attention on God and let the Holy Spirit change you from the inside out. This will lead you to maturity and more importantly, allow you to be an instrument of God’s peace and love to the world.