I beseech[a] you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, [ which is ] your [b]reasonable service.
To some, this amazing statement may be a very clear, plain one, but it seems, in this day & age, even among many Christians, to have lost much of its impact.What did the apostle mean when he penned these mysterious words? Most understand, at least in theory, that he was speaking of the offering of ourselves, our time to the service of God; ministering to/sharing with others the gifts that God has given us. This is true enough; we should offer our services, share our gifts, with those less fortunate, but does that really cover it?!
Of late, in the pages of this blog, we have explored the notion that, rather than Jesus' last name being 'Christ', just as 'Caesar' was not Julius', Augustus', etc. last name, but was simply a title; Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah for Israel. 'Christ' is the Greek equivalent, biblically speaking, of the Hebrew 'Messiah'. Etymologically speaking, the word 'Christ', meaning, 'the Anointed One', is closely related to & barely distinguishable from 'Chrism', or 'anointing ( oil )'. As a Christian, the arguments I have presented have been along these lines; 'though Jesus was the Christ, as presented to the Hebrews, then to the wider world through the Gospel; we, being the Body of ( the ) Christ ( scripturally speaking- I Corinthians 12:27 ) are thus the Christ as well, at least in potentiality!'
Whether one claims to be a Christian or not, seeking the good of others is the ultimate service, the highest good. Christianity is not the only religion that teaches this! As Christians, we have been taught to fear or despise these other religions, even though they may contain some semblance of truth, to view their subscribers as lost & in need of redemption in Jesus. In some sense, one could almost see the truth in such a statement, but only in the glorious fact that Jesus was the Christ. Not to be too repetitive, but Jesus was the Christ to the Hebrews! How many other 'Christs' ( 'Messiah's' ) have there been? To the Chinese, the Japanese, Nepalese, etc., etc. From the pages of the Bible, having been translated from the original Hebrew, Greek & Aramaic Scriptures, we read the claim that Yahweh was the One, True God & that Jesus was His Only Begotten Son. Jesus also made the ( somewhat ambiguous ) claim, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me' ( John 14:6 ). Was Jesus not saying this simply as the Son? Are we not ALL Sons? Are we not, as Christians, the Body of ( the ) Christ?!
Whether Jesus said 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me' on His own ( human ) authority, or as the Son of God ( deity ), one may note the universal truth in this statement. Yes, as the Son of God, Jesus was the only Way ( for the Hebrews ) to the Father.
( Pardon me while we take a short side-trip ) Here is where a deeper understanding of the nature of the Scriptures is important; when Jesus made this statement, He was battling the false notion that salvation was of the Law. The Pharisees were the staunchest defenders of the Law in Jesus' Day & they thought the Law & their strict observance of it was their salvation. Jesus, however, came along to show that only the Christ was 'the way, the truth, and the life'!
Sons of God ourselves ( Jesus even said we'll do 'greater' things-John 14:12 ), it might well be noted that WE, just as Jesus was to the Hebrews ( Jews & Gentiles ), are 'the way, the truth, and the life'. Not in our humanity, necessarily, though that is not unattainable, but in our true nature, the Spirit Within, whether as a Christian, a Buddhist, or Hindu ( for example ). The Christ is the ONLY way to God & without going into physiological detail, suffice it to say that, as 'fearfully and wonderfully made' as these biological bodies are, it should not be at all surprising that the 'Chrism' lies within. Again, we are the Christ ( as far as that goes ) wherein we bear within us, in our human physiology, the means to do 'greater' things than even Jesus did. This is not to say that we would then be greater than Jesus, just that we mirror His work for the Hebrews to the rest of the world. This can be best accomplished, one might argue, as a Christian, but it could as successfully be argued that one doesn't have to be a Christian to love his or her neighbor!
Sacrificial living is a concept not well-known in this day & age, even among many so-called Christians! I say 'concept', but it is really a way, THE Way, of Life. Living sacrificially may mean giving ones biological life for another ( dying that another, or others might live ), but more to the point, offering ones body as a living sacrifice means 'dying to oneself' ( as the popular phrase goes ), giving precedence to the needs of others, though we must make sure that we ourselves are strong before we can strengthen others. To offer our bodies ( as ) a living sacrifice doesn't mean that, at every opportunity we should offer to take another's place on the chopping block; it means using ( not abusing ) our biological bodies as Jesus did ( for example-one can refer to Gandhi, the Buddha, etc. ), in service to the Collective.
Service is a dying art! Thanks be to the Creator of this wonderful biology; it is, however, making a comeback! This world in which we live seems to be chock-ful of selfish people, to the point of forcing others to die that they might live ( the life ( style ) they want ). This turmoil has a silver lining, though; it tends to bring out of the woodwork those who maybe had not previously manifested that kind of life. War is hell, but as in all such disasters, this is the one good thing that transpires from it!
To wrap things up; though it might actually include giving up ones biological life that another, or others might live ( it hasn't quite come to that in this country, yet ), sacrificial living means giving of yourself for the good of others, not to ones own detriment, by first coming to the realization that, in reality, there ARE no 'others'. Sacrificial living means living in such a way as to benefit ALL, for really, we ARE ALL!
Charles Haddon Shank