“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.” Romans 12:1
Giving our bodies as a living sacrifice is a biblical mandate, but it can be ambiguous for many Christians in the Western world. The true meaning of surrendering our flesh and blood bodies as a sacrifice and withholding nothing, not even ourselves, is often misunderstood and disregarded by the non-persecuted church. As a result, this instruction is frequently overlooked and forgotten.
To the underground church, the verse from Romans is not merely a passing reference but the very bedrock upon which they construct their response to the suffering they endure. Christians residing in countries where they face severe persecution often experience physical and emotional abuse, rape, mutilation, torture, and even death. However, those who adhere to the principles of Romans 12 expect nothing less. To present one's body as a living sacrifice means surrendering control over one's fate. It is to find beauty in relinquishing the physical body for the sake of Christ, irrespective of the outcome. To be a living sacrifice implies placing oneself fully at God's disposal, being available and willing to comply with whatever God commands. In other words, the verse urges us to "present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is our spiritual worship," emphasizing the importance of offering our physical selves to God as an act of worship.
In the Bible, we witness numerous instances of this verse being manifested through members of the early, persecuted church. Among these, the most significant example is that of Paul. Throughout the New Testament, he exemplified presenting his body as a living sacrifice, rendering him invulnerable. Despite being beaten, he glorified Christ. While imprisoned, he wrote letters that shook the world. And even when threatened with death, he rejoiced in the knowledge that he would soon be with Jesus. His body was simply a vessel for glorifying God and a sacrifice on the altar, akin to wood being kindled and smoke rising, producing a pleasing aroma to the Lord. The underground church has discovered his secret and is using it to become just as invincible.
It's noteworthy that the underground church, which endures the most intense persecution, is also witnessing the most rapid growth globally. When one recognizes that the worst that can happen to them is no more than what they've pledged to give, they have nothing to lose.
The underground church has learned to accept Romans 12 at face value and, by doing so, has attained a freedom that is only attainable through complete surrender.
It is imperative for the universal church to understand this same principle. If we choose to surrender ourselves now, we can be prepared when persecution strikes. We can learn to yield ourselves intimately, like Mary of Bethany, who broke the jar of perfume at Jesus' feet, indicating that she was willing to give everything to Him. We can also offer the same fragrant aroma of a living sacrifice even in the absence of persecution if we are willing to surrender our bodies, plans, finances, possessions, and entire beings to Christ's sake.
This is why, at Global Catalytic Ministries, one of our vision statements is, "We offer our bodies as living sacrifices, loving Him so much that nothing else matters. He is worth it all."