Holy? | Adam Smith (The Seven)
Priscilla, Aquila and Apollos
18 Paul stayed on in Corinth for some time. Then he left the brothers and sisters and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. Before he sailed, he had his hair cut off at Cenchreae because of a vow he had taken. 19 They arrived at Ephesus, where Paul left Priscilla and Aquila. He himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. 20 When they asked him to spend more time with them, he declined. 21 But as he left, he promised, ‘I will come back if it is God’s will.’ Then he set sail from Ephesus. 22 When he landed at Caesarea, he went up to Jerusalem and greeted the church and then went down to Antioch.
A living sacrifice
12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Dedicated to God
Looking in the Old Testament, we find out why Paul had his hair cut off ‘because of a vow he had taken’. In the early days of the Israelites, if one of God’s people wanted to be specially dedicated to God for a certain amount of time, they would abstain from alcohol and let their hair grow. Then when the time was over, they had their hair cut off and gave it to the priests for burning with the sacrifice. These people were called Nazirites – ‘nazir’ meaning ‘separated’. They had separated themselves out for God.
When we become Christians, in baptism or at a further time of commitment, we dedicate ourselves to God. But we all know how far we fall short of a life fully lived for him. At B&A we have a simple way to help us re-dedicate ourselves each day: the ‘1, 2, 3’ way of prayer, which is explained fully in the ‘Stories’ section of the website. By starting the day worshipping God, reading the Bible and praying, we remind ourselves daily that we live as followers of Jesus, dedicated to him.
Paul in his letter to the Romans urges us to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, as the way to really worship God. He says we should distance ourselves from the ways of the world (but not the people in the world) and let God transform our whole way of seeing things so that we know God’s will for our lives.
What can we sacrifice in this way? For each of us it will be something different, but in every case it will mean giving something up which is holding us back from loving God and loving others as we love ourselves. Maybe even simply committing to a 1, 2, 3 six-minute daily time of prayer will mean a sacrifice of something else.
If you want to take a new step of commitment or sacrifice, tell a friend! – someone who will ask you how you’re doing, and won’t let you off the hook. Maybe they will want you to do the same for them. Being a disciple is not an easy path, and holding each other to account will strengthen you and help keep you going when things get tough.