The Scripture Reading this week is Romans 12:1-21
The Sermon title is The Renewing of Minds and Souls
Early Thoughts: What difference does faith make? How have you been changed, transformed, by God's presence and activity in you life? Or to put it another way...how would your life be different if you were not a person of faith?
Christian faith is about being transformed. Living in faith is about striving to align our daily lives with God's hope for us as persons and the world as a whole -- or possibly not "striving" but rather letting go of our own need for control so God can move in and through us. Living in faith is about listening for God's voice and discerning God's will -- then going ahead and following the path laid out. To live in faith means, as Paul points out here, to be a living sacrifice.
A sacrifice?!? What do we have to give up????? Potentially lots. But that is not what a sacrifice is.
When you look at its Latin roots you find that the word sacrifice means to make sacred (see here). To live in faith is to make your life sacred, set apart for God's purposes. So yeah it means giving up stuff, ideas, plans. But the important part is not so much the giving up, the important part is the purpose thereof.
When we allow ourselves to be transformed by faith, to be renewed in mind and spirit by God's Word alive in our midst, we move to make our lives sacred, to set ourselves apart for God's purposes.
The mark of deep faith, of a transformed being is not in how loudly we pray. It is not in how stridently we argue that the world must follow our interpretation of God's law. It is not in how openly devout and religious we are. The mark of deep faith is in how well we live out the last half of this passage. I would suggest the only way we can live in that way is if we have been renewed, transformed, changed. I also suggest that this renewal is not a one-time thing but rather an ongoing process as we grow and learn and experience life.
May God continue to work within us as individuals and as a community, renewing our minds, our souls, our selves, so that we would be a living sacrifice, set apart for God.