PASSAGE: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.”—Romans 12:1-8
COMMENT: At the heart of this passage is a clear and direct statement about the interaction in us between our spiritual nature and our human experience. It defines our entire purpose as spiritual beings engaged in a mortal experience.
We become “conformed to this world” when we allow the illusions of separation, lack and limitation to become the energy that motivates our choices and actions in this world. We believe in the reports of our five senses rather than our spiritual guidance. We are “transformed” when, in the midst of this human experience, we remember the truth of who we are—the Christ of God—and allow that truth to shape our choices. That transformation can only happen when we truly believe in our innate Oneness with God—when we realize that through our inner guidance we can always “discern what is the will of God” and trust that discernment to always bring about our highest good.
The other key element of this passage—as with so many passages in Paul’s writings—is that the innate Oneness with God that is the truth of every individual life does not allow for a hierarchy of priorities and gifts. Each of us is unique, and each of us is equally important to the spiritual purpose we are all here to accomplish. We are to appreciate and express our own unique gifts, and support others in the appreciation and expression of theirs. That’s why spiritual community is so important to achieving our purpose.