"Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship." (Romans 12:1 HCSB)
Worship – My wife is a dishwasher organizer. The dishes are placed according to size, and the silverware is positioned to receive the most efficient cleaning.
The other day, she showed me some drop-down attachments meant to hold cups in place. I'd never noticed them before – perhaps because I take the free-form approach to dishwasher loading, that is, if it's in the machine somewhere, somehow, then surely (hopefully) it will get clean.
These conflicting styles have led to what my sweet, Southern aunt calls “lively discussions.” And, I know my wife and I are not alone in these dishwasher dialogues; the Wall Street Journal once published an article suggesting they're present in so many households that marriage counselors should start specializing in “soap and suds” therapy.
So the next time you engage in a dishwasher dialogue (or any sort of “lively discussion”), recall Paul, the apostle, and his radical explanation that worship – your intimacy with God – should saturate the most mundane moments of your life. In fact, Paul's geek-Greek dialect suggests the analogy that preparing the temple for worship is an act of worship little different from coming into the temple to worship.
The simple acts of living become acts of worship when done according to God's purpose and pleasure. Think about it like this: It will take more faith this week to worship God when your spouse loads the dishwasher wrong – again – than the faith you need to show up in the sanctuary next weekend to worship God.
You may be hitting one of those “I can't, but God can” moments right now, and Paul knew that, so he reminds us that God, through his “mercies,” initiates and guides us into worship. God gives us the grace to become living sacrifices; it is the bloody sacrifice of Jesus and the Holy Spirit within us that make us holy and pleasing to God.
God's work within us transforms our dishwasher dialogues into conversations full of grace and mercy. I can accept you even when you come in after me to rearrange what's in the dishwasher, and you can accept me even when I come up with chaotic-exotic ways to load the dishwasher. We become living sacrifices, not because we will ourselves to niceness, but because we allow God to work through us, sacrificing our tendency to work independent of his agenda.
“For it is in him we live and move and have our being,” wrote Paul. “And the poets echo, we are his children.” (Acts 17:28 NIV)
What does this mean to me? Throughout the day, think about the “ordinary” things you do as an act of worship to God, and ask yourself: Am I lined up with the purpose and pleasure of God as I do thisí Am I allowing God to work through me, or am I working this myself?