Romans 12: 1-8

Monday, Chapter 12:1-8 

We’re not familiar with ‘sacrifice’ language –  But Paul, through Torah, is –  And claims it is rational or reasoned! 

More familiar to UCC ears it the counsel: Don’t be conformed to this age –  Be transformed to fit with God’s bigger promise more like ‘reign of God’ talk. 

We think we know this chapter, As an exhortation,  or as ‘paraenetic’ or ‘advice’ expression –  it’s a helpful counsel of modesty –  the risks of speculative spirituality are too familiar –  Paul is validating objectives proportionate to gifts, Expressed through suitable service

There is an old principle of interpretation of a list: 

Expression unius, exclusion alterius

‘if specifics are enumerated,  the list implicitly excludes alternative items’ 

We are more familiar, Particular in our glib liberal circle, Using this text in youth groups, To prefer another interpretive tradition: 

Mutatis mutandis

‘go ahead with analogous examples, mutating the original few’ 

Does this text really justify a ‘ministry of dishwashing’ –  or ‘audio-visual technician ministry’? 

Yes, this ‘body of Christ’ thing repeats 1 Corinthians, Paul’s earlier and more elaborate statement, which allows for greater numbers of examples…. 

No, this is not ‘the same as Ephesians’ –  A version of the ‘body’ argument with Christ as head –Part of a whole other worldview In my reading, not reconciled with this one, By Paul, or by somebody claiming Paul’s name 

In any event, regardless of the academy or the bureaucracy, and their use and misuse of this figure of ‘body’ –   I worry that we reduce the figure, from the ‘one, holy, catholic, apostolic church’ that innumerable host over time and space, of which each community is a part more or less pure… to conformity in our own religious subcultures unworthy of a text calling us to be transformed, to fit something more ultimate. 

On the other hand,  Peterson’s idiomatic paraphrase is cool! 

1 I ask you, therefore, brothers-and-sisters, by means of the compassion of God,  to offer yourselves as a sacrifice, living, holy, acceptable to God,  [which is] your rational act of worship.
2 And do not be conformed to this age but be transformed by the renewal of the mind, that ye may test what is the will of God,  [that is,] what is good and acceptable and perfect.

3 For through the grace given to me, I say to every single one of you not to think beyond what one ought to think but to think with the intention of soberness, as God has allotted to each one a standard of faithfulness.

4 For just as in one body we have many members, but all the members do not have the same function,

5 so we the many are one body in Christ and individually members one of another. 

6 Having gifts of grace differing according to the grace given to us,  if [it is] prophecy,  [then] in agreement with the faithfulness [of Christ]; 

7if [it is] ministry, [then] in service; if [one] teaches,  [then] in teaching;  

8 if one exhorts, [then] in encouragement; the distributor [to the needy] in simplicity;  the presider with dedication; the doer of merciful deeds with cheerfulness. 

 

1  So here's what I want you to do, God helping you:  Take your everyday, ordinary life your sleeping, eating, going-to-work,  and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering.  Embracing what God does for you  is the best thing you can do for him. 

2  Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you,  and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you,  always dragging you down to its level of immaturity,  God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. 

3  I'm speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you.  Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it's important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God.  No, God brings it all to you.  The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us,  not by what we are and what we do for him. 

4  In this way we are like the various parts of a human body.  Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. 

5 The body we're talking about is Christ's body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn't amount to much, would we?So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ's body, 

6  let's just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren't. 

If you preach, just preach God's Message,  nothing else; 

7 if you help, just help, don't take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; 

8 if you give encouraging guidance,  be careful that you don't get bossy; if you're put in charge, don't manipulate; if you're called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond;  if you work with the disadvantaged, don't let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. 
Keep a smile on your face.