Today’s passage comes from Romans 12:1-8…familiar words…”offer your bodies as a living sacrifice…do not conform to the pattern of the world but be transformed…” For 11 chapters Paul has been talking about doctrine…justification by faith through grace, salvation. Now he transitions to what it means to live out this doctrine. Again, the opening words are common, however, we often gloss over the rest of these opening words…”Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you…” Paul opens with an understanding of what defines worship (12:1-2) and then how this worship leads to service (12:3-8).
Paul is telling us that what we worship is what we will serve. He says don’t let pride get in the way…don’t be selfish… What motivates each of us is important. Paul’s emphasis here is not on the individual – it is on the individual as part of the collective body…the Church. For Paul, worship is full-bodied. It happens in community as we live out our faith by serving to build up the body of Christ. The quality of our worship is not measured by what happens on only Sunday mornings, but by what happens when we live out the Christian faith Monday through Saturday. What we worship is what we serve…Paul is ever clear on this…”Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)
Paul’s focus is on the Church…specifically, individuals living lives of constant worship, as living sacrifices, so that there is greater Church. So, what motivates you? Each of us is gifted with multiple gifts…what are you going to do with what God has given you, in humility, so that the Church of Jesus Christ is built up! This is Church Growth.