i once washed a twenty dollar bill in the pocket of my pants. when i found it, it was balled up and soaking wet. when i tried to straighten it out, i ripped it, and parts of it had just crumbled away in the agitation and rinsing. it was a mess.
but with some tape and time, i managed to make it look something like a twenty dollar bill again, and took it to the bank, where the teller shook her head at me with a slight smile, and handed me a new crisp bill.
i share this little episode because i've been thinking about paul's words to the church rome (in romans 12) about how we should offer our bodies to God as living sacrifices. when i think about offering things to God, i think about trying to give my best. God wants the things that i'm good at, right? God wants to see my best efforts, right? like, i should preach for God, and make collages for God, but certainly not ice skate for God, or cook for God. that would just be insulting. and there's no way God wants me to offer my body, which is merely a sad reminder of what it used to be, what with a bad back, graying hair, and a good-sized intertube firmly lodged around my midsection. surely, God isn't interested, right?
not according to Paul. Paul says that we have a "spiritual act of worship." do you have any idea what this worshipful act of our spirits is? yep, it's right there in romans 12: it is when we offer our bodies to God as living sacrifices.
here's the thing. i think we have become really good at being what i call percentage people, or pie chart people. we give God part of our life, and we might label that part of the pie chart "God" or "faith." in that slice we throw things like church and prayer. We include the Bible in there and that time we watched the passion of the christ. we reference that slice when we have a significant need, or when catastrophe strikes, but we are more likely to be found dabbling in one of the other slices of our lives: entertainment, career, family, hobbies, and so on. we have this nagging sense of guilt that maybe our "God slice" should be a bigger part of the pie, but all that does is make us avoid the God slice even more, because we don't like feeling guilty.
we are percentage people. God gets a percentage, and that should be enough, right?
except paul is trying to teach the church in rome that God doesn't just want our spiritual percentages. God wants all of us. even our bodies. remember that twenty dollar bill i mentioned? many of us feel like that andrew jackson: mutilated, torn, broken, old, washed up and worthless. but if the blasted amercian government will take that twenty and give it value, how much more will God receive us demonstrate just how valuable we are? how much more will the one who designed you - who knit you together in the womb - take you and embrace you in warm love? how much more will the one who adores you welcome you with a love that sees beyond wrinkles and pudge, beyond guilt and bad choices?
maybe you've been agitated, rinsed and spun. maybe you've been broken by the years, or by your choices, or by your circumstances. maybe you look in the mirror and can't see much good. but God desires all of you. not just your best. but all of you. the whole pie. God wants to journey with you through the slices of your life called career and familiy and entertainment and hobbies, and even those parts that you secretly and shamefully would never write on the pie chart. God wants all of you. the God who makes all things new, who fixes what is broken and breathes (abundant) life into what is dead, wants you to offer your body as a living sacrifice. it is your spiritual act of worship.