By Evan Johnson
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.
We compartmentalize our lives. We’re a people ruled by scheduling, even if we’re bad at it. It’s the way our minds work. We have to-do lists and appointments. We have time blocks. Ultimately, we categorize things into rooms. Your rooms may look different than my rooms, but we have rooms nonetheless because within these rooms are the different avenues in which we experience life. We have our “church” room where all things Jesus live. It’s where we play in the worship band. It’s where we preach. It’s where we have bible study and try not to crack a joke that’s too crude.
We then have our “fun” room. This is where we watch Netflix, hang out with friends, listen to Kendrick Lamar, watch Mike Birbiglia, and throw Sunday football parties.
Though these two rooms may share a wall, they will never fuse. They will never become one room for us. We just can’t reconcile church with being fun, and a lot of that has to do with the fact that it just isn’t. We’re just scared to say it because it might hurt God’s feelings.
So instead of confronting our divided lives, we instead allow the dividing lines to fester. Our church room and our fun room become unrecognizable to the other. They look like they belong in different parts of the country. This happens because we compartmentalize. Since we compartmentalize our lives, we allow our thoughts to become compartmentalized.
So when Paul tells the Christians in Rome to present their bodies as living sacrifices, is he asking them to add another room to their apartment-style thinking? I don’t think so. I think Paul is offering an alternative way of viewing life—that the Christian life encompasses all of you. Whether you are sitting in a pew listening to a sermon or sitting at home watching Mad Men, you are still the same purchased and redeemed child of God.
I think we always initially understood this, but the application that Paul wants from his readers is not to begin going through a list of their Spotify playlists and favorite Netflix shows to find those that glorify God and those that don’t.
It’s to live a life according to the Sermon on the Mount. It’s to be a peacekeeper where you are, to thirst and hunger for righteousness in whatever you do, to be pure in heart and merciful in whatever room we’re in. It’s understanding that such a life brings with it persecution, sadness, mourning, and meekness, but the source of strength is not in any one single room. It’s not in our job, what we do for fun, where we attend church, our family history, or our political affiliation.
Our strength comes from the Creator of everything ever who wanted to get to know us.
It’s not the things in the rooms that present themselves as obstacles of worship and living a full life. It’s not your Netflix marathon of Friends or your Childish Gambino records. It’s the walls themselves. The walls are impudences to holiness.
Our lives are marked by holiness when they see people who are filled with life given by an emotionally complex Holy Spirit, a Jesus that wept over the death of his friend Lazarus, a God who relentlessly pursued his rebellious children in the deserts of the Middle East.
Our bodies are holy sacrifices when we are enjoying all of life and not just a portion of it.