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. Romans 12:1
On my first birthday after we were married, my wife asked me what kind of cake I wanted. I told her that my mom always made me a bundt cake. I didn’t realize bundt was a shape and not a specific kind of cake, so, when my wife made me a bundt-shaped cake, it wasn’t exactly what I’d expected. It was very good. It just wasn’t the exact same as the one my mom made. What should have been my response to my wife’s loving gesture on my birthday? My appropriate response should have been gratitude. Thank you. That was very kind of you. You know that’s not what I said though. Instead, my wife got this. It’s not like my mom’s bundt cake . . . That was not an appropriate response.
In today’s passage, Paul said that there is an appropriate response to God’s mercy towards us. He’s loved us, forgiven us, and in following him, we’re saved from ourselves. Now, our only proper response is to live sacrificially. Daily, since he saved us, we must live, not for ourselves, but for God and his will.
We don’t earn God’s love and salvation through our good behavior. We’re saved only by his grace, through faith. It would be a grave error though, to assume that behavioral change isn’t important. Indeed, if we’re truly saved, transformation must follow. If change of behavior never occurs, we’d be right to suspect that our faith isn’t even real.
This was the crisis of faith I experienced in my addiction. Looking back at 15 years of following my appetite made me question my faith. I was right to do so. If I lived my entire life, always following me, and never living sacrificially for Christ, could I truly be his disciple? Finding recovery didn’t mean I saved myself. God saved me, but living differently was my proper response and the evidence of an authentic faith.
Sacrificial living doesn’t mean we’re perfect. We still make mistakes. We still sometimes follow ourselves. Daily though, if we’re following Christ, we’re learning from yesterday’s failures, striving to be new each day. We may still make bundt cake mistakes, but as we follow him, God continues to save us from ourselves, continually transforming us into what he wants us to be.