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Thoughts for Lent on Romans 12

March 17, 2008
"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.For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." - Romans 12
houston-feb08-057.jpgIt's not that I've got it all down pat - ready to go. I have not discovered holiness anymore than the next guy - I don't think I am closer to God or Heaven than anyone and I am not certain that my religion is better than any others.
I struggle with these things. I do wish to know, love and serve God. Honestly, six years ago, I didn't know what that meant. I can't explain what it feels like to "feel called." It's not like I heard a voice or anything. It's not even really a feeling - it's that and more. How do you know you're in love with someone? Is it just the feeling, or is it something more - something organic - from deep within, deeper than where feelings come from? How do you know your whole destiny is to go home to the Creator? I long to go home to be with God. I don't know why. I don't know if it's because I've been taught that, or because it's deep desire within me - that has always been there. That I was created that way…. that I am being created that way. I believe God lives in our desires.
And at the same time I know that there is nothing I can do to get to Heaven. There is nothing any of us can do to get to Heaven. We go to Heaven because God loves us and wants us to be there with Him. We get there because of God's Grace. Is it enough to simply have that desire - the desire to know, love and serve God - the way I long to know, love and serve my wife - the desire to be with Him?
My limited humanity (in my understanding of the Gospels and what wise people have written) tells me that the way to know, love and serve God is to know, love and serve others. This is what "feed the hungry,
clothe the naked, and console the afflicted" is all about. This is what Mother Teresa spent a lifetime doing: "If you do it to the least of these, you do it to me." And so, every day I try to do what I do and do it well. I try to make my body a living sacrifice and holy (even though I am not sure what that really means). I try to be kind and compassionate to others. I try to listen to others and help where I am needed. I try to console those who need consolation. I try not to act big and I try not to think that I have all the answers. I try to simplify my life - to uncomplicate my life - to clear it of all the clutter. That's what the Sabbath was
created for. That is what this season of Lent, and in particular this Holy Week allows me to do. I try to keep in mind that I need God and without Him I can do nothing.
Pedro

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