I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:1-2
Some people think Jesus-followers are not rational. I beg to differ. I believe Jesus-followers are the most rational people on earth. But it only fits rationality based on our presuppositions. If you believe that there is no Creator, no sin, and separation from the Creator, no purpose to the universe. If you believe that we are all there is. If you believe there are no absolutes. Then I suppose it is rational to believe that Jesus-followers are not rational. On the other hand, if you believe that there is a Creator and Sustainer of all things; that there is a point to all of this, that things are not as they are supposed to be, and finally that there is One who is making all things new, then being a Jesus-follower is the most rational thing one can do.
An alternate reading of the phrase, “your spiritual worship” is “your rational service.” To me, that reading makes more sense given the context of the passage. Paul is appealing “by the mercies of God” that the readers present their bodies (their whole being) as a living sacrifice. I understand the idea that this is worship given the background of Jewish sacrifices and burnt offerings, etc. Giving sacrifices is part of worship. But Paul is making a logical argument, and his appeal is based on the “mercies” of God. What does he mean by that?
Looking at the grammar, he appeals, “therefore,” which means the appeal is based on what went before in the argument. The mercies of God to which he refers immediately is God’s sovereign election in Romans 11:25-30. The more extended argument begins in chapter 1, so in essence, the entire book of Romans is what the, therefore, is referring to. But the key is Paul’s explicit reference to God’s sovereign election. It is, to the elect, pure mercy. Eternal salvation is granted based on nothing other than God’s choice to choose us. We did not earn it in any sense.
Now, on the basis of God’s sovereign election, our sacrificing of ourselves as living sacrifices is the most rational service we can render. God chose us to be his people and him to be our God. The alternative is not to be the object of God’s love but the object of his wrath. We have been plucked from the fire of God’s wrath because he chose to pluck us from that fire. Saying that our response should be one of gratitude is an understatement.
Living entirely for Christ is rational.
If you have not responded to Pauls appeal to present yourself as a living sacrifice, I appeal to you to do so now. It is the only rational thing you can do.