I was reading my favorite chapter of the Bible one morning, Romans 12, "And so, dear brothers, I plead with you to give your bodies to God. Let them be a living sacrifice, holy – the kind he can accept. When you think of what he has done for you, is this too much to ask?"
Once again, the words of the apostle Paul called to me just as they drew me long ago when I was only 11 years old. In fact, I can clearly remember my initial encounter with what has become my "life chapter."
Amazingly, I found Romans 12 for the first time in The Living Bible, the same version I read again this particular morning. Back then, in 1973, as a preteen, it was a very hip, trendy, teen-friendly Bible placed in the drawer of a motel by a dedicated Gideon.
I hope to meet that sweet Gideon missionary in heaven one day. Because even though I had attended church my entire life, that Living Bible (and yes, I took it home; the insert said I could) made the Word come alive for me. It spoke to me then, and my life has never been the same since.
So, I smile whenever I read Romans 12 or whenever I hear it quoted. Truly, those words beckon to me each time, calling me to repentance and service. They often bring me to my knees, sometimes instantly and tearfully tearing at who I think I am versus who He called me to be.
Those words remind me that everything I am belongs to Him, and they direct me to give all of me to His service, ensuring that my life has meaning and purpose.
And Romans 12 always, always humbles me.
Just think! We are a part of Him, the God of the universe. And He wants us; He desires us. And yes, He longs for us to love Him, to worship Him, and to serve Him by guiding and welcoming His other beloved children into His body of believers.
We all have a place in Him, a particular space no one else can fill. We belong!
One time, when I was feeling quite holy and spiritual, I read this chapter and asked God to show me (figuratively) my place in the body. Perhaps I imagined myself a mighty arm or a discerning eye. Who knows! But I got much more than I bargained for. He showed my place alright – and instantly humbled me in the process.
He showed me a finger, a long, wiggly, pointer finger on a right hand to be exact. Then, He let me know that even though my job was to point people to Christ and curl myself inward to invite people into the body, I often failed.
He showed me how I often point out people's flaws and how I tend to point out every negative detail in the world. He revealed to me that I often misused and abused my place in the body of Christ.
As I prayed and listened, I realized how often I separated people from Him rather than bringing them in. With one small flick of my pointer finger, I dismissed and damaged those He desperately loves.
Wow! In one solitary moment, His Spirit within me spoke words of conviction that were hard to swallow. I fancied myself quite accepting and loving, while He saw a heart of haughty pride and condescension. He spoke to me so quickly, so true, and yet so powerfully.
Yes, in an instant, Romans 12 changed the way I looked at my attitude toward others. I prayed then and I pray now to always be a part of the body that loves with truth and grace, inviting others to know Jesus.
Do I fail at it sometimes? Yes, of course. But I always hear His still, small voice and remember a wiggling finger drawing me, pointing me back to Christ.
And that one simple gesture reminds me that I am merely a small, small part of the body, albeit an important part. I can help make the difference in whether people He places in my path find the Savior quickly or spend a lifetime looking for a place to fit in and belong, a place to be loved.
Romans 12 also reminds me that not only do those lost and searching people I encounter along life's path have a place and a purpose – I need those people as well.
We belong together! Together, we form the body of Christ.
So, today, I plead with you, my brothers and sisters. He loves you, and I need you. We are a team, a body – His body.
Let us surrender and give our bodies to Christ as a living sacrifice. For in our total surrender, He can take each of us and make us into who He called us to be. And then, we can take up our particular, assigned place in the body of believers, and we can live fully and completely for Him.
After everything that He has done for us, it is the least we can do.