"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God."—Romans 12:1
Some years ago in a tribal village in Africa, a man was very sick and near death. He knew it. He managed to walk to where there was a doctor. There he fell down. The doctor diagnosed and treated the man. The man recuperated and went home.
Later he reappeared with his family and all his possessions. The man said, "Here I am. What do you want me to do?" The doctor understood that in gratitude, the man was giving himself to serve him.
The Great Physician deserves no less.
The verse above is located at the intersection of two parts of the book of Romans. It follows the doctrinal part and begins the practical part. The word "therefore"is the hinge. What God has done calls for a proper response. Our faith in Christ is the root. Our life of sacrifice is the fruit. God offered a Sacrifice. We sacrifice as the response of loving gratitude.
Ruth Seamands wrote an article which appeared in the Wycliffe publication, In Other Words, in 1977. She wrote:
"It was Christmas eve in Korea. A woman in labor walked through the snow to the home of a missionary friend where whe knew she could find help. A short way down the road from the mission house was a deep gully spanned by a bridge. As the young woman stumbled forward, birth pains overcame her. She realized she could go no further. She crawled under the bridge. There, alone, she gave birth to a baby boy.
She had nothing with her except the heavy padded clothes she was wearing. One by one, she removed the pieces of her clothing and wrapped them around her tiny son—around and around, like a cocoon.
Then, finding a discarded piece of burlap, she pulled it over herself and lay exhausted beside her baby.
The next morning the missionary drove across the bridge in her jeep to take a Christmas basket to a Korean family. On the way back, as she neared the bridge, the jeep sputtered and died, out of gas. Getting out of the jeep, she started to walk across the bridge and heard a faint cry beneath her. She crawled under the bridge to investigate. There she found the tiny baby, warm, but hungry, and the young mother frozen to death.
The missionary took the baby home and cared for him. As the boy grew, he often asked his adopted mother to tell him the story of how she had found him.
On Christmas Day, his 12th birthday, he asked the missionary to take him to his mother's grave. Once there, he asked her to wait a distance away while he went to pray. The boy stood beside the grave with bowed head, crying. Then he began to take off his clothes. As the astonished missionary watched, the boy took off his warm clothing, piece by piece, and laid them on his mother's grave.
Surely, he won't take off all his clothing, the missionary thought. He'll freeze. But the boy stripped himself of everything, putting all his warm clothing on the grave. He kneeled, naked and shivering in the snow.
As the missionary went to help him dress again, she heard him cry out to the mother he never knew, "Were you colder than this for me, my mother?" And he wept bitterly.
"When Christ came, he stripped himself of every royal garment and entered into our world of hatred and cold indifference. Why did he do it? Because he saw centuries of broken lives needing a Savior. And then he died of a broken heart. What broke it? The sin of human hearts. The long history of men making slaves of other men, centuries of cannibalism and cruelty, starvation and suffering, the worship of false gods in temples made with hands. war, bloodshed, crime, and greed. Those things broke the heart of Christ.
But so did we. Our coldness broke his heart and freezes him out. In our nakedness need we cry, "Were you colder than this because of us, Lord?" And we cry bitterly, because we know you were.
In his death, Christ gave himself to us. In view of the gift of his life to us, we give our bodies as living sacrifices. We give him our eyes as parts of our body and covenant to use our eyes to see people as he saw them. We give him our ears and covenant not to listen to anything he would not listen to. We give him our tongue and let him control it by his Spirit to witness of his grace. A body was prepared for Jesus, but the Holy Spirit came to earth without a body, so he asks to use ours! What an honor. What an indescribable privilege to let our bodies be the home of God's Holy Spirit!
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God."