According to this passage, we are called to offer ourselves to God, as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. It is how we worship Him. As I reflect back to Old Testament times, I can't help but think about the animal sacrifices they were required to make, in order to maintain a good standing with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The fear those people must have lived in! I know I never would have measured up if sacrifices of that type were required of me! I would have brought the wrong calf, or picked the wrong day to sacrifice, or would have stepped at the wrong place by the altar, for sure. I absolutely know I would not have been successful! Thanks be to God, who allowed me to be born when I was! His grace is incomprehensible!
As I continue reading, my eyes fall on verse two. "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." I actually don't need to read any further...especially if this is going to be a short blog posting! This verse is one that can be chewed on for a while. Years, actually, if we are to put it into practice! How do we not conform to the pattern of this world? We are so immersed in it. Immersed through music, television, movies, billboards, commercials - actually, bombarded, may be a better choice of words. How do we break out of that? I know in my life, when my girls were very young I had the realization that my thoughts and actions were greatly influenced by what I allowed into my mind and heart. The music I listened to and the movies I watched greatly impacted what came out of me. Children cause us to become more aware of ourselves. I decided years ago that I needed to allow things into my soul that would only move me closer to Jesus. That is hard work - it may mean not going to see the latest movie release. It may mean leaving a movie or concert that is not bringing glory to Him. It may mean turning off the television or changing a radio station- against the pleasure of those around us. The "world" naturally pulls us away from Him. We must make a concerted effort to bring Him into our daily lives. The world will bully its way in.
The verses move on to tell us that each one of us were created for a specific purpose - some were called to teach, some to prophesy, some to preach, some to encourage, some to lead, some to help others, some to govern, some to show mercy. I can think of people in my life that fall into each of these categories.
I have worked a number of jigsaw puzzles in my lifetime. As a child, I loved it when we had a 500 or 1000 piece puzzle on the dining room table and we could work it as we desired - a family event. There were times that I would try to force pieces together that looked like they should fit together, but there was a gap, or it would bend part of the puzzle piece. Even though I wanted it to fit together very badly, it just wasn't right. The pieces that were made to fit together, though, went together so easily and it just worked. Satisfaction followed when all the pieces were placed where they were meant to be. And the final display was beautiful and perfect.
God has a perfect plan, will, and purpose for each one of us. When we are walking in that place, it fits perfectly and it's easy. He says in His Word that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. The times that we over-commit or do that task that someone else wants us to do (even though it isn't in line with His calling for us) - those times are very difficult for us. When we are living out the purpose He intended for us, it still may be hard work, but it comes easy. He enables us. It's like removing a hot blueberry muffin from a muffin pan that was prepared ahead of time.
Do you fit where you are, or do you need to look at the whole picture and find your place - given by God who knows you best? He has prepared you for the work He has planned for you to do.