And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Romans 12:1 (NLT)
In the first eleven chapters of Romans Paul lays-out his theology (picture) of what God’s redemption looks like. Then you turn the page and chapter twelve begins with …and so. He is saying, since God is like that – we must therefore live like this.
Chapter twelve begins the unfolding of the wonderful ways in which redemption rearranges our lives, and makes us Christian non-conformists. Belief is what defines our behavior, not personal comfort, personal cravings or the fads of this world’s culture systems!
You could compare Paul’s teaching to a hike in the Rocky Mountains. In chapters 1-11 we are led up one slope to the high point of the Continental Divide; it is the place where rivers change the direction in which they flow. If a raindrop falls on one side it will run East; its brother drops a few inches on the other side and will forever run West.
“……And so” is Paul’s theological divide between grace and works. The first eleven chapters teach us the grace of God, his plan for redemption. In starting chapter 12 with …and so, Paul straddles the divide and points to the moral authority which grace has purchased; this places expectations on those who follow Jesus.
Paul’s revelation in chapter 12 is the hinge of a great propositional truth. This truth is that, for believers, our theology (who God is, and what our relationship to Him should be) must drive our everyday life and actions. Who He is defines who we must be.
This is where duty kicks-in.
This is where God’s expectations of how we will live this “life freely given”, begins to take shape. Chapters 1-11 have God’s unconditional love reaching down and blowing away the death-grip sin had on us like so much chaff in the wind.
Then, with a simple ….and so, the chapters which follow point us to the truth that we have been given a clean slate, and we must use it wisely. Paul is saying: You’ve been set free, slave…now live like it; live like a free person!
Have you explored the grace of God since you came to know Him? Do you sing of his Amazing Grace with the saints every Sunday, and then wonder if there’s more?
Let your prayer today be: “Lord, you’ve freed me from the penalty of sin; now teach me how to live like a person who has crossed the great divide of …and so.
Let this amazing grace grow so big in me that I find it the greatest joy of my life to return this life of freedom you’ve given me back to You, as an offering of honor.”