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“Offer all the parts of your body to God”

January 27, 2024
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Daily Scripture

Romans 6:12-16

12 So then, don’t let sin rule your body, so that you do what it wants. 13 Don’t offer parts of your body to sin, to be used as weapons to do wrong. Instead, present yourselves to God as people who have been brought back to life from the dead, and offer all the parts of your body to God to be used as weapons to do right. 14 Sin will have no power over you, because you aren’t under Law but under grace.
15 So what? Should we sin because we aren’t under Law but under grace? Absolutely not! 16 Don’t you know that if you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, that you are slaves of the one whom you obey? That’s true whether you serve as slaves of sin, which leads to death, or as slaves of the kind of obedience that leads to righteousness.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

The apostle Paul tirelessly preached the glory of God’s grace to sinful humans (e.g., “Where sin increased, grace multiplied even more”–Romans 5:20). Some people, then and since, have mocked Paul’s teaching by saying, “If he’s right, great! Let’s keep sinning, so there can be even more grace.” Paul met that idea head on in Romans 6:15, saying, “Absolutely not.” (The Greek literally meant “May it never be!” That phrase occurred ten times in Romans.) He was convinced that choosing between God’s ways and “sinful ways” (anything we come up with different from God’s ways) is a life-and-death choice. “The rules and guidelines for Christian living are not there because God happens to like squashing people into a particular shape whether or not it’s good for them…. The rules are there because… it matters which road you take. One road will ultimately lead you not just into a cul-de-sac but into disaster. The other road leads you to… life in all its fullness.” *

  • The notion that sinning was okay to create more grace was not just a first century idea. The infamous Russian Rasputin, for instance, justified his immorality by saying God’s grace needed something to forgive. We tend to think we choose all our actions, but that ignores the power of habits. What hurtful habits have for a time (or still) held you captive? Do you believe it’s better to choose a life free from “sin’s” control (i.e. attitudes and acts that block relationship with God and others) over a life of slavery to sin? N. T. Wright asked Christians, “Think of the ways in which, in your former life, you employed a lot of energy in going after things which you now regard as wrong. Are you using that same energy, imagination and initiative in working for God’s kingdom, in extending his covenant purposes in the world?” ** How can Jesus’ love free you to live in energetic, imaginative, kingdom-building ways?
Prayer

God, I choose you to be the one I obey, the one who shapes my life. Free me from damaging thoughts and actions that have enslaved me. Set my life aglow as an outpost of your love. Amen.

GPS Insights

Steve Schneeberger

Steve Schneeberger

Steve Schneeberger serves as the RezLife Student Ministries Lead Director. He grew up in Overland Park, graduating from Baker University and the University of Kansas. He has led and taught about youth ministry for over 30 years. He is married to Carol, a middle school counselor, and they have three children (Hannah, Bobby and Michael) and one dog, Buc (named after a hippogriff in the Harry Potter series). Steve enjoys running, playing basketball, watching Netflix and reading.

I remember the conversation vividly. I was standing in the middle of the family room of a condominium located at a ski resort in West Virginia (yeah, there are skiable mountains on the east coast, too). I was in the Appalachian Mountains with 70 high school students for the annual church youth ski trip. I don’t remember where everyone else was. But the conversation involved me, Ken and Jeremy. I was explaining to them why the rules were so strict. On the previous year’s ski trip (my first year at this church), some students took advantage of my rookie status and snuck some illegal substances on the trip. They were caught and I learned a lot about trust that year, maybe the topic for another GPS.

This year I wasn’t going to be fooled again. So, I instituted new, stricter guidelines and, ironically, doubled participation in the trip. Ken and Jeremy were providing the first challenge. I was explaining the reason behind whatever rule they were wanting to stretch. I don’t remember most of the words. But I can still visualize the family room and Ken saying to me, “I’m going to have fun now. I’m going to follow Jesus later.”

Well, that’s not how I was framing the conversation. But that’s how Ken was framing his experience. Somehow, he had it in his mind that if he followed Jesus now, he couldn’t have the fun he wanted to have. I’m not sure if I successfully untangled behavior from God’s gift of grace to us and then our natural desire to follow Jesus’s teachings as a result and that all of this can still be fun. But I tried. 

I’m pretty sure we all have difficulty understanding and applying this concept to varying degrees. When does our bad behavior interfere with our relationship with God? Well, according to Paul, in his letter to the Romans, it comes down to what is most important to us. If our relationship with God is most important, then our behavior will naturally reflect the importance. Does that mean we don’t make poor choices or hurt others on occasion? I am certainly guilty of living an imperfect life by not always choosing to do the right thing. What matters is that God is first.

I’m not really sure if I convinced Ken on that day in West Virginia. He tended to be like many high school students I know, trying on different personas until he found what fit. Christianity was one that he wore often (just not sure it was all the time). But what I do know is that he grew into being a man who honors God and teaches his children the same. God eventually became first. May it be that way for all of us, sooner rather than later.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
References

* Wright, N.T., Paul for Everyone, Romans Part One: Chapters 1-8 (p. 115). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.
** Wright, N.T., Paul for Everyone, Romans Part One: Chapters 1-8 (p. 112). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.