What if following Jesus was just something you did in your head? Maybe a prayer of initiation, but everything else was just thinking good thoughts?
It might be easier if following did not involve our physical bodies. Your body is vital to loving God and your neighbour.
Submission and obedience to God may start in your thoughts, but the body is an expresser of God’s will. Recognizing that the ancient world was filled with its share of sensual temptations and idol worship, Paul appeals to the church to do something with their bodies.
One of the newer translations is ‘The Voice’. It renders Paul’s words this way.
KJV - present your bodies a living sacrifice
NIV - offer your bodies as a living sacrifice
MSG - place it before God as an offering
Consistently there is the idea of giving or submitting our human body as a sacrifice or offering to God. While that may sound demanding, Paul appeals to the church to respond to God in this way because of his mercy.
John Piper says,
Build your lives on this mercy. Sink your roots in this mercy. And your new life will flow out with mercy. That is, Romans 12 will become a reality in your own life. Romans 12 oozes with mercy. “Show mercy with cheerfulness. . . . Let love be genuine. . . . Give to the saints. . . . Bless those who persecute you. . . . Weep with those who weep. . . . Associate with the lowly. . . . Repay no one evil for evil. . . . Never avenge yourselves. . . . If your enemy is hungry feed him.” Build your lives on mercy and become merciful.
We could talk about your eyes, your mouth or your feet. But, let’s focus on the hands. Jesus had a whole other spin on dealing with the body.
Jesus was telling us that our physical body might be used in ways that guide our soul and spirit down a dark road that leads to hell. When it comes to submitting your body to God, are you struggling with obedience or are you learning to respond to God’s mercy? The love response has the most power to change you.
Let’s look at three postures for your hands:
1. Hands up
2. Hands out
3. Hands on