Sometimes verses like Romans 12:1 fall into the Christian canyon of sanctified bumper-sticker sayings. Sometimes it’s a call to arms for hormone-crazed teens (or so youth teachers have often taught): in light of God being a good God, present your bodies to himâ€”undefiled by immorality. Other times it’s phrased in such a way as if it were obligatory payback; kind of how you treat a good boss.
He pays you well and lets you take the kids to the doctor without docking your pay and one day he asks you if you could stay late and work on some things. You sit there and think about it for a bit: how good your boss is and he’s really been kind to you andâ€”well you owe him one. So you agree and stay late…he’s such a nice guy after all.
Since God loved us so much by sending His Son to die for us (and in so doing He really saved us from a pretty bad end; no one wants to go to hell after all) it’s only reasonable to do this for Godâ€”after all, we owe Him one.
The audacity of it all; as if anything we do could possibly pay God back anything.
It’s helpful, therefore to reexamine the verse and our presuppositions in the light of Scripture to see how our beliefsâ€”no matter how unstatedâ€”hold up to what the Scriptures are actually saying.
For the verse doesn’t come out of the blue but it begins it’s commentary stating “Therefore” or which underscores the fact that things have previously been said and that this verse stands as a logical follow through of those things previously said. And the verse doesn’t end with a merely theoretical position but it underscores an actual Doing: it demands some sort of actionâ€”whatever it may be at this point of the examination.
With this in mindâ€”that this is a logical progression that results in this actionâ€”let’s begin by examining Paul’s words.