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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. – Romans 12:1
Why this verse is important to Bryce:
Ok, I confess, I struggle a bit with so called “coffee-cup” verses and this one is very much one of those, but when pastor included this verse in his teaching a few weeks ago, it made me pause. Not because of the richness that is packed in the last two thirds of this verse but because of the simple statement: “…in view of God’s mercy,…”. I guess I felt convicted to try and understand what this little morsel meant. I mean, how often do we see Paul start a great teaching with something like this phrase and brush it off for the more obvious teaching to follow. Really…, it even has the word “mercy” in it, which is just another overused bit of spiritual jargon that most of don’t truly understand, right? Well, the Holy Spirit decided I needed to chew on this for a while. So what is mercy? I guess it’s not so difficult when I stop and think about, we even had that goofy game we played as kids where we tried to get our friend to cry out “mercy!” as we hand wrestled each other. I remember a pastor in my college years teach the definition of mercy in comparison to the definition of grace: grace is receiving something we don’t deserve (like salvation – a free gift), and mercy is not receiving something we do deserve (like damnation – hell). Ok…. so grace comes from the loving component of our Father, and mercy comes from the just part of Him; the just-ness of God being in response to our sinfullness. I have always more easily understood God as a loving Father; a Father that sees my sinfullness and easily washes it away, even sometimes when I neglect to ask him. A Father that looks down at me from heaven and wants nothing other than to lavish me with my every desire….. I think most people want this this to be God, but this little part of this “coffee cup” verse gave me the jolt I needed to be reminded of His justice, how to have reverent fear of Him. He loves us truly, but I know we frustrate and disappoint Him so much more than we want to believe. As I chewed on this “in view of…” part, the Holy Spirit painted a picture in my mind. I could see the Father on the edge of rage, maybe even on the edge of wrath, wanting to storm down from His throne and wipe away our disrespectfulness. I felt shameful for all the ways I’ve taken Him for granted and been indifferent to His feelings. Our sinfullness is such that He sacrificed his Son for us and we don’t hardly seem to care. We struggle with things, some of us even shameful and secret things that we know are wrong yet we continue in them, not caring how they affect the One that created us. Still, in that same vision I saw Jesus, His back was to me and He was holding back His Father, pleading on my/our behalf. We’re so blessed to have a loving Father, a forgiving Father, and a just Father. We may wish that He is only love but if He were, we would walk all over Him like a rug and treat Him like a genie in a bottle, just there for our beckon call….or is that too often how we see Him? I praise God for Romans 12:1, this command to offer ourselves to Him in the view of His mercy has straightened out my picture of the Father. May we all fall on our knees humbly before our Creator knowing He loves us beyond our comprehension, but also fearing Him as One who has the power to wipe us out if not for Jesus.
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