Romans 12:1-2 (NRSV)
“1) 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. 2) 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.”
In this passage of his letter to the Christians in Rome, the Apostle Paul urges his fellow believers to live into the beauty and goodness of life made possible by the grace (“mercies”) of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ. He invites them (and us) to perceive a new mode of worship—which he describes as embodied, communal and transformative.
Imagine, with Paul, that you are the gift worthy to be offered to God. Imagine that your body is holy—that is, a site of sacred presence. How would this awareness change your experience of this day? Would you tend to your deepest needs? Would you carry yourself with a greater grasp of your dignity? Would you accept God’s acceptance in order to live more attentive to the day’s opportunities for sharing that loving acceptance with others?
Paul’s message speaks to individuals, but also addresses the church as a community. He likens their gathering to gifts worthy to be elevated, as on an altar in worship, pleasing to the Holy One. Living in loving community can be a challenge, but the struggle produces spiritual fruit, especially when the community’s self-understanding is grounded in God’s redeeming love.
The secular world tends to view bodies otherwise—as sites to cultivate for commercial gain, as objects to exploit, as disposable sources of pleasure or production. Paul beckons Christians to discern themselves and all persons from a truer perspective—as ones who bear the divine image and have an inherent dignity to be honored, in order to love and serve the God whose image we all bear.
Remind me, O God, that bodies—in all their diversity—are sites of your redeeming presence. Help me to live in a deep awareness of the ways in which this day may be an act of renewing worship.
-Dr. Jan Jaynes Quesada, Instructor II in the TCU Religion Department