Targum :: Romans 12:1-2

by Brian Walsh

A reflection on Romans 12:1-2
Wine Before Breakfast
Originally Delivered January 16, 2007

Brothers and Sisters:

If it is true that in the face of our disobedience
we have met a God rich in mercy;

if it true that this mercy extends to all of creation,
waiting in eager longing for the revelation of the children of God

if it is true that we ourselves , in concert with the Holy Spirit
await our adoption, the redemption of our very bodies;

if it true that the depths and riches and wisdom and knowledge of God
is inscrutable;

if it is true that from him, through him, and to him are all things,
and that all glory is his forever;

if all of this is true …

then I urge you with everything that I have,
…I appeal to you,
…I call out to you,

in response to the creation-restoring mercy of God,
…offer up your bodies
…these bodies redeemed by Christ

offer up your bodies
…not your devotional life, not merely your expression of piety,
…but your very bodies

offer up your bodies
…the totality of your embodied existence;
…everything you are and everything you do

offer up your bodies
…the body of Christ, the bodies of believers,
…gathered together in churches, cell groups, campus fellowships

offer up your bodies
…as nothing less than living sacrifices.

Do you want to know what spiritual worship looks like?
…It looks like bodies offered up in living sacrifice.

Do you want a worship that is vibrant, real and alive?
…Then live your entire life as an offering to the creation-redeeming God.

Do you want worship to be integral to your life, and not unrelated God-talk?
Then offer your whole embodied life
…your studies and work
…your eating and drinking
…your friendships and loves
…your voting and consuming
…your entertainment and homemaking

offer it all,
give it all,
as a living sacrifice of thanks and praise.

That’s worship!
That’s what holiness is all about!
That’s what’s acceptable to God.
That’s what spirituality is really all about.

This is spiritual worship,
because all of life is spiritual,
all of life is suffused with spirituality
…the only question is, which spirit?

So don’t be conformed but be transformed.
Don’t be enslaved by the spirits of this age,
…but be set free by the Spirit of this God of mercy.

Don’t be conformed to the spirits of this age
…the spirit of personal success and status
…the spirit of consumption as the meaning of life
…the spirit of national and personal security
…the spirit of technological innovation
…the spirit of market-defined beauty
…the spirit of sexual commodification
…the spirit of educational elitism.

These are spirits of a debased mind, these are spirits of idolatry, and they all require sacrifice:
…sacrifice of care for the dispossessed,
…sacrifice of the beauty and fecundity of the earth,
…sacrifice of economic resources in service of a military machine,
…sacrifice of the time to slow down and enjoy sabbath,
…sacrifice of our very dignity, our bodies and our sexuality,
…sacrifice of fidelity in our relationships
…sacrifice of all places in service of nomadic climbing the career ladder.

These are the sacrifices of this age,
…these are the sacrifices that these false gods require.

The God of mercy also requires sacrifice;
…the living sacrifice of bodies offered in worship,
…the living sacrifice of lives rich in gratitude,
…the living sacrifice of human life that lives not in this age,
…but in the age to come.

Refusing to be slaves of the present age,
…refusing to offer up sacrifices
…to the principalities and powers of the empire,

we offer up our whole lives as living sacrifices,
…subjects of the age to come,
…subjects of the Kingdom.

Living sacrifices, brothers and sisters,
that’s what I call you to offer.
Living sacrifices, sisters and brothers,
that’s the only appropriate response
to this creation-loving God of mercy.

Living sacrifices,
…not conformed,
…but transformed;
…not enslaved to idolatry,
…but free to bear the image of God.

Living sacrifices,
…not given over to enslaved minds,
…but liberated by transformed minds;
…not captured by the imagination of this age,
…but animated by an imagination
…that can see just beyond the range of normal sight.

Be transformed, my friends, transformed
…by the renewal of your minds.

Renewed minds,
…minds renewed for a renewed creation,
…minds renewed for a renewed culture,
…minds renewed for a Kingdom of renewal.

Living sacrifices.
Incarnated lives of renewal.
Transformed, not conformed.
Embodied spirituality.
Imaginations set free to dream otherwise.

Open your eyes.
Take a look at what’s just beyond the range of normal sight.
Don’t be duped into thinking that this world is normal.
Don’t be taken in by the rhetoric, the double-talk, the deceit of this present age.

Don’t believe that great ideas guarantee a great future:
…some great ideas can damn us and damn our children
…some great ideas are great big lies.

Don’t be a people conformed to the worldview of normalcy.

Open your eyes.
Be a people of discernment.
See the world through the tear filled eyes of the Creator.
See the world through the eyes of radical gratitude.
Discern the path ahead through the eyes of suffering service.
Discern your path, discern the will of God,
…through the eyes of Jesus

from a cross
from an empty tomb
from a seat of enthronement.

Renewed minds.
Will of God.

Bodies offered as living sacrifices
…this is acceptable and holy.

Transformed minds,
liberated imaginations,
…discerning the will of God
…discerning what is acceptable and perfect
…discerning that which makes life whole
…discerning that which renders us acceptable

acceptable to God,
whole in ourselves.

Discerning the will of God
…in the lab,
…in the lecture hall,
…in the seminar room,
…in the dining room,
…in the bedroom,
…in the boardroom
…in the voting booth.

Discerning people,
…discerning imaginations,
…discerning hearts,
…discerning lives.

Lives transformed,
…lives set free.

Brian Walsh
Brian is an activist theologian, a retired CRC campus minister, the founder of the Wine Before Breakfast community, and farms with Sylvia Keesmaat at Russet House Farm.He engages issues of theology and culture, and has written a couple of books you might want to check out. His most recent offering is cowritten with Sylvia Keesmaat and entitled Romans Disarmed: Resisting Empire, Demanding Justice.

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