To me, Romans 12 reads like a manifesto on how to lead the Christian life. Paul packs this chapter with exhortations for followers of Christ about what we should do and how we should act toward others. Here is a sampling of Paul’s guidance:
· Give yourselves to God as a holy sacrifice
· Don’t conform; be transformed be renewing your minds
· Evaluate yourselves honestly
· Use YOUR God given gift
· Love others; really love them
· Hate what is wrong; hold on to what is good
· Be patient in trouble
· Keep on praying
· Practice hospitality
· Bless those who persecute you
· Live in harmony
· Don’t be too proud; hang out with ordinary people
· Never take revenge
And it goes on. It is a daunting list. How can we live this way faithfully? How do we really love those who hurt us? Or bother us?
I think the key is found in the first two verses of the chapter. These are often memorized by Christians for good reason. The only way we can live the life Paul describes in chapter 12 is by letting God transform us, and the only way God can transform us is through our submission. Give our bodies to God as a holy sacrifice because of what Jesus did for us. Taking up our cross daily and following him allows God to change us.
When God transforms us, I think chapter 12 becomes a list of things we want to do – not things we feel we have to do. I think the key for me is daily submission. Giving myself to God as a holy sacrifice. That’s where transformation begins.