“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.” - Romans 12:1–2
When I was a kid, my parents were set apart. I could not talk to them like I would my friends. Although my relationship was close and personal, they were in charge and set the boundaries for what was an appropriate or inappropriate way to talk to them. I could not approach them on my terms – it was on theirs. This was appropriate because my parents brought me into this world and were responsible for my well-being. How disrespectful is it for us to think we can set our own standards for how we approach God?
One of the most terrifying Old Testament historical accounts is that of Uzzah and the Ark of God in 2 Samuel 6:5-15. The ark was being taken to Jerusalem after having been captured and released by the Philistines. It was being transported on a cart being pulled by oxen. When the oxen stumbled and the ark began to fall, Uzzah went to stabilize it and, “God struck him down because of his error (2 Samuel 6:7).” God had given precise orders for transporting the ark – it was only to be carried by golden poles, not by a cart (Exodus 25:14-15). Uzzah may have thought that he was honoring God by reacting in the way he did, but God made it clear that He can only be approached on His terms.
Even though Jesus has changed the way we approach God (Galatians 3:23-29), God is still holy, and we cannot approach Him lightly or as we would a person (see Acts 5:1-11). Romans 12:1-2 outlines the way we must approach God. Our approach to God is often driven by the world, to conform to it to draw others in. Contrary to this, Paul says our “spiritual worship” is done by seeking to be holy and acceptable to God. This is done by not being conformed to the world but being transformed by the renewal of our minds.
When our minds are renewed and transformed, we will be able to discern what is pleasing to God. Instead of constantly looking for new ways to approach and worship God with a desire to please the ever-changing ways of the world, we will instead seek to worship God in the way that pleases Him.
A prayer for today:
Father God, thank you that You are holy, that you are not like us. The world is constantly changing and telling us to change how we approach You. But You are the same yesterday, today and forever. Give us the desire to worship and approach You in a way that brings You the glory only You deserve. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!