Romans 12:1-8 (ESV)
A Living Sacrifice
12 I appeal to you therefore, brothers,[a] by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.[b] 2 Do not be conformed to this world,[c] but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.[d]
Gifts of Grace
3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members,[e] and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads,[f] with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
I thought I knew today’s passage well. It is one of the places in the Bible that talks about spiritual gifts. The verses listing different God-given abilities are part of the foundation of my role at St. John’s as Coordinator of Spiritual Gifts Ministries: “We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.” Usually when I read these lines I think about disciples discerning their gifts and using them in ministry.
This time the preceding verses caught my attention: “For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.” The power of the body metaphor struck me. It isn’t just that we are good at different things and our gifts complement each other. As a body, we simply have to work together. It is impossible for body parts to operate independently, one leg going one way and one leg going the other. Our functions, and ministries, are inextricably linked. This can be challenging. Eyes and ears may have different perspectives.
And, if you’ve ever suffered from a bad back, allergies, poor eyesight, or any other ailment, you know that bodies are not perfect. Sometimes parts can be problematic and need more attention than others. But they are still ours. We still need them.
It can be especially disillusioning in the church when we experience each other’s shortcomings, especially when they bump up against our own. We may be tempted to leave and take our gifts elsewhere. There are always other disciples, teams, groups, and churches. But those will all be flawed, too. The evil in the world wants to separate us from God, our true nature as God’s children, and our relationships as brothers and sisters in Christ. Don’t let it.
Gracious God, grant us the strength and wisdom to be a body of Christ that does your work and witnesses to your love. In your Son Jesus’ name, Amen.
Written by Kristen Schmid Schurter Coordinator of Spiritual Gifts Ministries firstname.lastname@example.org