As we start into our second year of this pandemic, I find myself looking back over 2020 and all that we faced as a nation, as a planet. At a minimum, we certainly have learned about “social distancing” (I really dislike that phrase) and how to function in a “remote” location (remember when that meant you were on vacation and not at home). But seriously, what lessons can be learned from last year?
In Romans 12:1-2, we read; “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God”.
Looking back over the year, where was our heart? Were we presenting ourselves as the body of Christ, or did we display our worldly values? Whom did we serve? Did we conform to our surroundings or did we continue our transformation into His Image? Were we focused on GOD’S will?
We know the world values physical appearance, yet here we start 2021 in the world’s largest masquerade party. How we present ourselves to others is a big part of who we are. In Proverbs 27:19, we read; “As in water face reflects face, so the heart of man reflects the man”. In covering our faces and keeping our distance, it is in what we say and do that reflects who we are. In James 1:23 we read “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror”. Ironically, that is what we have left in this pandemic. To be admired for your beauty, you must stare into the mirror.
So how do we present our bodies as a living sacrifice? First, we must understand the word “sacrifice”. In the dictionary, sacrifice is defined as “an act of slaughtering an animal or person or surrendering a possession as an offering to God or to a divine or supernatural figure”. In reading the Old Testament, sacrifices were made to atone for your sins. Yet man did not truly atone for his sins, but instead paid the “fine” until they did it again. That is not a sacrifice, but instead a payment. In GOD’S WORD Psalms 40:6, we read David telling us that GOD does not want our sacrifice if it is not from the heart. If we are to present ourselves as a “living” sacrifice, then we must give from the heart our unconditional love to GOD.
In 2020, we witnessed the government’s struggling to help its people, struggling to perform daily services, and struggling to find a path forward. Beyond that, as individuals we learned what was important and what was not. Realizing social media did not replace physical presence, our children’s education is not to be taken for granted, our political leaders are not “for the people” and that worshipping as a congregation in GOD’S House is not guaranteed.
To avoid “conforming” to this world, I believe we must be “transformed to HIS Image.” In 2 Cor. 3:18, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord”. Now please don’t misinterpret the “unveiled face” and state that the Bible says not to wear you mask, but instead interpret the “unveiled face” as the real you and not what you project to others.
So how do we “transform” to HIS Image? Just as Romans 12:2 states, “by the renewing of your mind” and proving what is good in the Eyes of the Lord. In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, we read “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work”. GOD’S WORD is a LIVING DOCUMENT capable of answering your questions in this complex world we live in. Unlike the government, the experts, the academia, or the celebrities; GOD has a Plan (Jer. 29:11) and we need only open HIS WORD and allow HIM to reveal the answer. Now that does not mean the answer will be to your satisfaction, but I can assure you HE Will answer if you seek HIM.
But how do we know what is “good, acceptable and the Will of GOD”? In 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22, we read Paul saying “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil”. We must listen to the Holy Spirit. If you have received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, then you have received the Holy Spirit. However in these confusing times, are we able to hear the Spirit? In 1 John 4:1-3, we read; “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world”. To know if you are doing GOD’S “good and acceptable and perfect will”, we must test it.
To ensure our actions are acceptable to GOD’S WILL, we must ask ourselves of every action we are about to take:
1. Does this agree with GOD’S WORD?
2. Will this make me more like Christ?
3. Will fellow believers confront me?
4. Is my conviction for the Lord? Or myself?
5. Will this convey GOD’S PEACE and LOVE?
In surviving 2020 and as we start the journey that is 2021, I pray that we sacrifice ourselves to GOD by acting on HIS Spiritual Guidance, by “transforming” into HIS Image, and by testing everything in our lives to ensure we are doing “what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God”.