I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)
A few days ago, my daughter and I were outside, and she point to something in the distance which I just couldn’t see. She kept saying, “It’s right there! It’s so obvious! Why can’t you see it?!?” I kept looking and not seeing, until (duh!) I moved near where she was and suddenly, there it was, visible and obvious.
A couple days ago I attended a webinar. I though the presenter spoke eloquently, articulately, elegantly, and had great insight and wisdom. Afterwards, another participant said she had a hard time listening to the presenter because the presenter was strident, yelling and rigid in the presentation. How could the two of us have heard the same presenter and have such different reactions?
You know the answer, I suspect. It’s all about perspective. When I stand in one place and another person stands in a different place, whether physically or emotionally or psychologically or logically, we can see the same thing from very different perspectives. Our life experiences, our upbringing, our heritage, our location – and race and education and sexual identity and economic situation and ethnicity and ability and, and, and, … all influence our perspective and perception of the world. This is part of what makes us such a rainbow-covered, kaleidoscopic world. This is also part of what makes us have difficulty talking with each other.
When I see something and point to it as obvious, visible and right there, and you cannot see it, when I interpret a life experience one way and you experience it completely differently – and then I expect you to see it my way and I don’t work to understand your way of seeing (and maybe you don’t work to understand my way of seeing), we can end up judging, arguing, battling and hurting one another. Sometimes there is no way around this, until we step back and realize what’s happening. Sometimes we are so embedded in our perception of the “way life is” that we cannot see the world or life or a situation or our faith any other way. This is life experience for us all.
Paul, the writer of this scripture passage invites us to a different way of approaching our differences. He invites us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice (I’m always grateful for the “living” aspect of this!). He asks us to be transformed – changed – by the renewing of our minds. We are invited to move to a new perspective to see the world through new eyes – not always easy – through God’s eyes, no less! We are called to live into God’s grace and blessing of what is good and acceptable and perfect – God’s will.
The passage continues with the analogy of us all being part of the body of Christ. We are not alone in our perceptions of this world and this life. We are in this together. As this body, we are called to name and claim what is good and acceptable and perfect, to claim God, for ourselves and our perspective in life AND for each other’s perspectives. Everyone? Even those with whom we deeply agree? I suspect, if we understand Jesus’ message in the Gospels, we know the answer is, “Yes!” We will never all see or understand from the same perspective. Yet we know that we can live transformational lives – together.
Living loving God, we present our lives to you, to your transforming Spirit, so we can live and love in the same passion and perspectives of the grace-filled, blessed, resurrection witness of Jesus Christ. Amen.
May this devotion provide you with a moment of faithful reflection and care. You are involved in ministries of justice and witness, in ministries of standing up and standing with people working to create better systems and communities, in ministries of learning and searching and researching to become more aware and awakened, more technologically savvy and proficient, more virtually and personally present in your churches and communities and world. Each of us who serve as members of your Wisconsin Cabinet write these devotions in grateful prayer for you – for sustenance and buoyancy, for strength and courage, for safety and just actions, and for faith and love to be full and fulfilled in your daily lives. God’s grace and blessings, God’s challenge and healthy discomfort, God’s Spirit and energy be with you, in the hope Christ offers us all.