Our theme verses for 2019 are Romans 12v1-2: '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. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will.'
Paul says that it is 'proper' to offer our bodies in devotion to God. In view of his mercy it is right, it is reasonable and it is rational to do so. However, in our culture it is also radical. We live in a culture where the body is what people worship. Shopping centres like Cribbs Causeway and Cabot Circus are temples to the body. People spend a lot of time and a lot of money on shoes and clothing. The average man has several pairs of shoes in their wardrobe, which might include casual shoes, running trainers, smart shoes, and a pair of boots. People spend a lot of time and a lot of money on skin care - on creams and lotions, that moisturise and exfoliate, cleanse and hydrate, firm and tan, smooth and anti-age. People spend a lot of time and a lot of money on hair care - on shampoos and conditioners, on cutting, drying and styling. People perm and crimp and straighten and curl and dye their hair. And if it's not the hair on their heads then it's the hair on their faces. People trim and brush and oil their beards. And if it's not the hair on their faces then it's the hair in their ears or up their noses! People spend a lot of time and a lot of money on caring for their nails and caring for their teeth. People spend a lot of time and a lot of money on jewellery: ear-rings, necklaces, bracelets, and watches. And it's not uncommon to buy an extra strap or two for your watch! People spend a fortune on their bodies - on making them look good and smell good and feel good. In our culture the body is what people worship. But Paul says the body isn't what we should worship but the body is the way we should worship. Chrisitans - 'in view of God's mercy' - we are 'to offer [our] bodies as a living sacrifice'. Paul is calling us not to sacrifice everything for the sake of the body but to sacrifice the body for the sake of eternity. This year, will we give our bodies to the One who gave us his body?