Shed the Garbage, Show up with Goodness

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, 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 renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-8)

These days, I have had to do regular media detoxes. I find myself reviewing the news on my phone, checking COVID statistics in Florida, New York, and California where many friends and family live. Then, I find myself locked into the latest political outrage. And before I know it, I am going down a dark rabbit hole without even thinking about it.

This Scripture was familiar to me and perhaps to you, too. It’s a difficult thing to wrap our heads around the concept of our lives as a living sacrifice offered to God, so I turned to Paul’s words made fresh to my modern ears in Eugene Peterson’s adaptation in The Message:

“So, here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for God. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what God wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” (Romans 12:1-2)

This renewed paraphrase of an old text explains what offering our lives to God each and every day really means. It is a life dedicated to the service of God—a life committed to doing God’s will—a life lived in faith and lived out in faithfulness. We are encouraged to present our lives for God’s purposes on Sunday in worship and on Monday in our walking-around life. That last sentence also warns us about getting dragged down to our culture’s immaturity. I don’t want to become jaded and cynical, but I have found that a constant diet of consuming negative media begins to have its impact on my soul and spirit. I have a daily choice. So, here is my challenge to myself and to you – can you take a time out from your media consumption, replacing it with some time for prayer and reflection this week? And then see if you or others notice the difference in you.

“Present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice” Paul writes. He is reminding believers of every generation the importance of shedding the garbage and showing up for God. When we show up, don’t be surprised if God has a task for you to do. And so, we present ourselves, freely and openly, trusting that when we show up, God does too. And life is infinitely better.

Rev. Dr. Deb Kaiser-Cross
Minister for Congregational Care

For those without resources in these trying times:
God of all hopefulness, grant us quietness of mind that we might know your presence. Grant us softness of heart that we might be moved by the needs we see in the world. Grant us strength of will that we might approach each situation with the attitude that we might be conduits of your grace. Help us to dwell in the peace, our lives mirroring the richness of grace. Strengthen us to do you work and your will through Jesus, the pathfinder. Amen.