“…offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.” - Romans 12:1
When I was growing up in New England, I used to visit a grist mill in the neighboring town of Sudbury. The mill was situated beside a small river, and the water from the river turned a large wheel on the side of the mill. A series of wooden gears within the stone house translated the power from the rippling brook to the millstones which ground the grain. When there had been a good rain and the river ran high, the mill turned faster and ground more grain than usual. This peaceful scene from my childhood has become a picture of the Church in its various ministry functions. Each of us has spiritual gifts, given to us by our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His wise plan, the body of Christ “builds itself up in love as each part does its work” (Eph. 4:16). But the church only functions as we put in time in service to the Lord. Time… time… ministry time, hours of labor put in at the church, is the most precious practical resource for the growth of the body of Christ. As more and more of God’s people give of their time, it is much like a river running at flood stage and making the wheels turn with humming rapidity. Person after person walks out from the mill with bags full of grain, more and more as the river runs faster and faster.
"The sacrifice God wants is you… your body, your time, your very life."
None of this will occur, however, without the people of God first sanctifying themselves to their Lord. You begin by “offering your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God.” A sacrifice is something precious, of great value, given out of love and devotion to God. If it costs you nothing, it is no sacrifice. The sacrifice God wants is you… your body, your time, your very life. According to the rest of the chapter (Rom. 12), the time you put in will be given along the pattern of your spiritual gifts. Yet there are so many tasks to be done in the church that anyone can do, and that do not require any special gift at all. Most churches respond by squeezing the 20% of active, hardworking people for even more sacrifices. This is ineffective for the long run, and it means that the other 80% will have little to show their Lord for their lives when the time comes for showing. Offer yourself to Christ, give Him your whole self, and ask, “Lord, am I doing all I can to turn the wheel of the church? Am I fully consecrated to you?” I believe God wants to do great things in your own church. May He do them through the dedicated service of each one of you!