St Paul begins to draw together in this passage some of the various strands he has been working with throughout the preceding eleven chapters. He begins exactly where chapter 11 ends. No one can know the mind of God for the mechanics of the universe’s salvation – it is far beyond our understanding. But thanks to the Holy Spirit of Christ dwelling within us, we can discern what the will of God in our own lives is.
This discernment, this capacity to judge well what it is that God wants, is a gift; but it is also something given us so that we may present ourselves to God the better in service. In the first place, that good judgement entails not thinking of ourselves more highly than others – which is a theme Paul explored back in chapter 2. In the second place, it means recognizing that each of us has some things we are good at – which are to be used for the benefit of the whole people of God – and some things we are not good at – which we should rely upon others in the body of Christ to supplement and correct. And in the third place, it means offering up all that we are and all that we have become in the service of God, as a ‘living sacrifice’ which ‘answers’ the ‘question’ posed by Christ’s sacrifice of himself for our sakes on the cross.
In the few days that remain of Lent, let us ask God to help us discern what ‘function’ it is that he has granted each of us in the body of Christ – his church – and let us share what it is with other Christians alongside whom we worship. (It may not be what you think it is at first!) And then let us ask him to help us offer that function as a gift in his service, that we may each be living sacrifices to his praise and glory.
These devotions were originally written for the parish of All Saints, Ascot and we are grateful for permission to republish them on Fulcrum.
Patrick is curate of All Saints’, Ascot in Berkshire. A musicologist by training, he is married to Lydia, a university lecturer, and dad to Madeleine. He writes (sporadically) at benedixisti.wordpress.com and tweets (even more sporadically) as @patrickgilday.