Dying to ourselves

Romans 12: 1-2 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

There are a few passages that will always hold great meaning to me, the opening to Romans 12 however is one that I’m reminded of daily. I use it as the footer to my emails so every time I’m composing a message it’s right there. If I’m madly typing away lost in emotion, or deep into a thought that holds little to no actual weight, there it is. It helps recalibrate me so a message steeped in the heat of the moment which might otherwise have an effect contrary to what I’d like to say can be rewritten. It’s like the proverbial 20/20 hindsight, or simply hitting the reset button when I read it. Since I’ve included the first 2 verses of Romans 12 as my email signature I haven’t sent an email steeped in unfiltered anger. Not that my messages are always free from anger, however the message I’m trying to convey isn’t lost.

This is one of the first passages I was introduced to as my recovery and start to being in a right relationship with God began. It was hard to imagine this concept of being a living sacrifice as I looked on the surface. So many times that’s true though as I scratch the surface, finding something much more beautiful and pure underneath. As I go deeper I gain a new perspective, and begin thinking and seeing things differently. So while Paul isn’t advocating ritual suicide, he is imploring us to die to our old selves. It’s putting to death the worldly self that’s caught up in what we’re wearing or driving, what social circles we’re a part of or what our LinkedIn title says. It’s dying to our own view of ourselves, and giving ourselves over to what God’s plans are for us. With social media it’s impossible to not get caught up to this idealized version of who we’re supposed to be. What would happen if we gave all that up? How would we benefit not carrying around the mental baggage of keeping up with everyone, and how would those around us benefit as well?

Picking up our cross daily and following Jesus is something we’re reminded of that we need to do. In doing so we take additional steps to being in a right relationship with God as we die to ourselves and look upon our world as Christ did. Following Jesus in a Romans 12 way is designed not only to inform our judgments, but to reform our hearts and lives. It’s a practical application of truths boiled down to their basics and placed in order for Christian living. The grace of God teaches us to live godly, soberly, and righteously’ and to deny all that’s contrary to that. As I floundered in faith and recovery I needed these reminders as I tried to get an understanding of who God is, especially as I broke apart the things I had previously put so much faith in that failed me. It’s no surprise they led me to self-destruction. Nothing in this world can satisfy us, we were created to find lasting satisfaction in Jesus not in the fruits of this world that led to expulsion from Eden.

I find my faith enhanced when I read different translations, whether it’s in chair time or over the course of my day as I often-times struggle to interpret what’s being said or its practical application. Romans 12 is no different. A different translation takes Paul’s boiled down version and makes it even more digestible, which for me who is anything but a Biblical scholar, greatly welcomed.

Romans 12: 1-2 “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.”

Making the decision daily is the easy part. Taking it and applying it in ways that bring us closer to God and further away from the world is more difficult as we go through our day. There’s no simple answer how each of us does it, but Paul provides some practical guidelines. Don’t buy into the things around us, they lead us further from Christ and into destruction. As someone who has made plenty of idols, I urge you to take a look at this passage again, whatever translation you choose, and pray over it after reading. Let Paul’s words wash over you and see what’s revealed to you. Maybe it doesn’t happen right away, but by deliberately inviting God into each moment you’re already stepping into Romans 12 in very intentional ways whether you’re aware of it or not. You’re slowly dying to the world around you and finding your life in Christ.

John 3:30 “He must become greater; I must become less.”

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