Romans 12:1-2 (ESV) – I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
My son has really gotten into Star Wars in the past year, and I love it! Of course what pseudo-nerdy dad wouldn’t. It represents a change in programming in our household where once Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Donald, Daisy, and Goofy held a steady monopoly on the family’s viewing choices, now Darth Vader, Luke, Han, Leia, R2D2, and C3PO get some air time… (and yes, there are the unfortunate forays into the prequels). But I remember watching Caleb watching the original Star Wars trilogy for the first time becoming immersed in the stories, the characters, the themes, the battles. Suddenly, he wanted to get a paper towel tube and color it red and wield his own personal lightsaber. For his birthday he wanted a Darth Vader costume. That story enlivened his imagination and to some extent changed the way he lived.
When Paul writes the letter to the Roman church he spends the first portion of it telling this grand story of the evil in the world, which has taken root in the hearts and minds of all humankind. He tells the epic tale of God’s plan redemption born out through Abraham’s line, codified in the Law, and come to fruition in Jesus Christ. It is a battle for the souls of everyone of Paul’s readers, and while the victory is secure, it is one that still rages in the daily lives of every man, woman, and child on the planet.
With this monumental and cosmic narrative as the backdrop and with God’s covenant-fulfilling, never-failing love as the motivation, Paul says, this should change everything for us. It should ignite our imaginations to follow none other than the God who puts that plan in motion and sees it through in the life, death, and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ. This change should be so entirely complete that it is viewed as a sacrifice of any past way of life. It should constitute a mind, body and heart metamorphosis whereby we care only for living out the will of God in our lives.
If the Lenten season emphasizes anything it is this: the sacrifice of Jesus should prompt us to sacrifice everything for him.