My perspective on things is pretty conservative. I don’t look into things too much outside of what I know is fact. I don’t try to envision things from a different perspective. But I must admit, there have been times when my viewpoint was very different than the way things turned out, forcing me to stop and re-evaluate what I had thought. Let me give you an example. In 2006, I was extremely blessed to be a part of a Missions trip to the country of El Salvador. I had looked at all the information I could look at about the country, its culture, and other pertinent things like language, currency, temperature, and local customs to prepare myself. I talked with others who had visited the country and got their perspective. I thought I was ready. When I arrived in El Salvador, my perspective changed. I had a moment of clarity. Though the information I had accumulated from study and personal testimonies was accurate, I didn’t realize that there was another perspective. That perspective was this; you needed to step foot on El Salvadorian soil to feel and witness the absolute truth.
Let me embellish for a little while. I saw a country of extreme poverty occupying the same space along side of the wealthy. I saw a military presence and a culture that protected what they owned. I experienced a gang presence in just about every little village. I experienced people who loved you exactly as you were with no preconceived ideas. And I saw the eyes of the children as they worked day and night in order to live. This was my moment of clarity. I never thought I’d see, let alone experience what I saw in this incredible country. This country was hungry. Hungry for an answer to what they lived every day. I thought I would be seen as an outsider. I was not. I thought I would feel out of place. I did not. I thought that I would just do what I was asked to do. I was given the opportunity to do so much more. I thought that I’d never develop a love for this Central American country. I was wrong.
The Apostle Paul had a change of perspective. We have learned in previous chapters in Romans the way we should believe. Romans 8:3 says, “ For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin; He condemned sin in the flesh.” In Romans Chapter 12 Paul had a moment of clarity. Paul moved from right belief to right behavior. He saw the need to walk the walk and step out in faith. (Read Romans 12:1-2 for the change of perspective) Romans chapter 12, verse 1 teaches us that we are motivated by Mercy. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. This is your true and proper worship.” It’s because of God’s incredible mercy poured out on us through His Son, Jesus, that we live for Him. We were lost and under the curse of death both because of our link to Adam and sinful humanity, and our own sinful desires. Undeserved grace and privilege has been made available to us through Jesus. These statements are keys to living holy before God. Understanding this opens the door to offering ourselves as a living sacrifice. What a change in perspective!
Offering ourselves as a living sacrifice is not out of a sense of compulsion or an expectation but rather it’s a voluntary response to God. Let’s go back to my Missions trip. I left my home with a sense of compulsion and expectation. I thought I would be obedient and do what everyone else did as a participant on a mission’s trip. That perspective changed as soon as I landed. Praise the Lord! My time in El Salvador became a voluntary response to God’s mercy and grace poured out on the people of El Salvador and poured out on me. I served under the Power of God’s Mercy. I was at God’s disposal. “Sometimes we just need to get up and get out.” The people of El Salvador taught me this. Children of the age of 5 were out on the streets working all day and living on less than a dollar a day to survive. Then these same children would come to church service every night, along with many men and women, and worship God unashamed and full of thanksgiving for what they had. These children were, for the most part, living on their own. Their parents and grandparents had more than likely left them to come to the states to work. They lived out their lives believing Jesus would care for them and that was all they needed.
Friends, do we have what it takes to live out our lives under the motivation of God’s mercy? If the answer to this question is no, then we need a transformation of our minds. Romans Chapter 12, verse 2 talks about that. The people of El Salvador had a mind transformation. Certainly in the children. Let me encourage you to listen to a powerful message from Pastor Aaron Taylor about how we need to not only transform our bodies by offering it as a sacrifice, but how important the transformation of our mind is. Paul has a perspective that is worth understanding. Check it out! http://painesvilleag.com/a-study-in-romans