Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Rom. 12:1-2 NIV)
When I was in Bible College, one of the key phrases that flowed from the mouths of those studying for the ministry was, "I just want to know God's will for my life." This is a fair and noble goal, to be sure, an ambition worthy of both princes and paupers alike. But in the twenty something years since my graduation, I've come to see that finding God's will is both simple and profound, and like most things about God, it comes at a price.
Paul tells the Christians at Rome to take a wide-angle look at God's mercy as seen throughout the history of Israel, and to conclude this panorama by offering themselves as living sacrifices. He tells them that as a sacrifice they have found the spiritual--from the Greek word logikos--or reasonable, rational, logical way to worship God. True spiritual, reasonable worship only happens through a life that is lived as a sacrifice. Part of this sacrifice comes by transforming and renewing our minds to take on the mind of Christ, and consciously choosing not to conform our minds to the unstable shape of a transitory world. Then, and only then, are we able to put God's will to the test.
We all want to know God's will, but we will only find it when we decide to become living sacrifices. But too often we reverse this process. We first want to know what God's will is for our life--then we'll decide if we'll sacrifice our life for it. But the Gospel tells us that we must first be raised up as a sacrifice before we can fulfill God's purposes.
The calling of the apostles is a perfect example of this. First the Apostle Peter left his business and his father, and then he found out what God had commissioned him to do. Our "Yes" to God must always precede the "What" that God wants us to do. Jesus told Matthew, "Follow me." No explanations or promises, no contracts or guarantees. Simply, "Follow me." Paul had to say "Yes, Lord" before he learned that God would show him how much he had to suffer for Him (Acts 16:9).
Paul makes the connection between being a living sacrifice and knowing the will of God by using the word pleasing in each instance. The Greek word for pleasing means well-pleasing and acceptable, and translates into the Hebrew word halak, meaning to walk (with God), like Enoch. Therefore, not only is living our life as a sacrifice well-pleasing and acceptable in God's sight, it also creates for us an environment to know His good, pleasing, and perfect will as we walk with Him in that life, day by day.
Our Sunday morning worship means nothing if our Monday through Saturday life has not been carried out as a living sacrifice. William Barclay said, "Real worship is the offering of everyday life to him, not something transacted in a church, but something which sees the whole world as the temple of the living God." Sunday can be seen as the Church coming together primarily for learning about and worshiping God. Wednesday evening is the Church together for teaching and raising disciples. But the period from Monday through Saturday finds the Church dispersed for witnessing to and attracting new disciples. All of these activities are reasonable, acceptable, and spiritual ways to live our lives and accomplish the will of God.
I still don't know what God's ultimate will for my life is, but I don't give it as much thought as I used to. Every morning I wake up and look for ways to serve Him, and at the end of the day I can see where He has used me to touch a small corner of the world, and I thank Him for using me. Isn't that a logical, if not spiritual way, to worship God?
Barclay, William. Barclay's Daily Study Bible: Romans. IBM Corp., Publishing Systems Project, 1993.