I’ve been reflecting on one verse of scripture today. Well truth be told I’ve been thinking about this for almost 2 years. It’s been bouncing around in my head, bumping up against my to do list of laundry, dishes, email, responsibilities and deadlines; you know the list.
Every time it bumps into something in my head it feels like a light goes on. One thing has stood out over and over: God is the initiator. He started this whole change process. Let me back up and explain.
The verse I’ve been reflecting on is Romans 12:1
I urge you therefore brethren by the mercies of God to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice acceptable to God which is your spiritual service of worship.
For a long time (like 20 years long time) I’ve looked at this verse as part of what I’m supposed to do as a Christian. The focus has been on me. But that perspective is changing.
By the mercies of God…
Five little words that have been bouncing around in my head like the silver ball in a pinball machine (do you know what a pinball machine is?)
lighting up the objects it bumps into before it drops through the hole at the bottom; these 5 words all rolled together as one phrase.
By the mercies of God.
Any thing I do regarding the rest of this verse happens by the mercies of God. So then I want to know: What are the mercies of God?
Earlier in Romans we’re told that while we were still sinners, still enemies of God, He sent His only Son Jesus to pay the required sin sacrifice to buy us back from the enemy of our souls. (Rom. 5:8)
Telling you this much information without context is like walking into the family room in the middle of a movie that everyone else is focused on and you don’t know what’s going on. The point?
God is the Initiator.
He is the Creator, Sustainer, Equipper, Comforter, Provider, and the list goes on.
So by the mercies of God I am able to present my body, my whole self, as a living and holy sacrifice which is acceptable to God … do you see it? By God and to God. God is the Initiator.
But what are His mercies?
So many places in the Bible speak of the mercy or mercies of God. And like so many words that get said over and over I had to stop and remind myself exactly what the word mercy means.
Mercy–compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.
God, Who created, ex nihilo (out of nothing) has within His power the right to punish or harm us for falling short of His perfect Law. But from the very beginning of humanity’s rebellion, God initiated a Way back to Him. He promised to send a Savior for humanity. (Gen. 3)
God is the Initiator.
By His mercies we are objects of Love not objects of wrath. By His mercies we can be forgiven for our fallen nature and every act or thought of rebellion against His Way. (Eph. 2:3; Col.1:21)
By His mercies we are invited close, called sons & daughters, co-inheritors with His Son. (Eph 2:13; Heb. 9:15; 1 Pet. 1:4)
By His mercies we are transformed, changed into the likeness, into the family resemblance of Christ. (Eph. 4:24)
Bottom line here: it is God Who is at work in us and through us. He is the Initiator.
Our responsibility is to live life in tandem with Him. A tandem bicycle is not designed side by side but one in front of the other. A captain and a stoker.
He’s the One in front, steering, braking, shifting, guiding. He invites us to join Him.
All we have to do is stay on the bike, on the saddle and peddle in sync with His power, His direction, His will.
As we begin this season of Lent I encourage you to ponder, to reflect, to listen, to let go. Let a portion of God’s Word bounce around in your head like your own pinball machine. Think about what it would take to be on a tandem bike with God the Initiator. Let these images and ideas hold hands during this season.
We have been given the gift of responding to His love, to His plan, to His sacrifice for us.
This adventure is amazing!