Monday, December 06, 2010

The God of No Shortages

As we have meditated this morning on Isaiah’s prophecy, we have noted the sacrificial and priestly themes in the text. When God strips Zion bare, He removes her skin, washes her, sprinkles blood, and then lights her on fire with the glory of the Spirit. These are the actions of the priest in offering a sacrifice. God is promising to turn Israel into a living sacrifice, and as we have just noted, this is what happens at Pentecost. In Romans 12, Paul famously says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” And I want to point out two things: First, notice that Paul beseeches the Romans by the mercies of God. The word here for mercies is “oiktirmos” which means compassion, mercy, or pity, but the “oik” prefix is usually found on words that have to do with a house or a household. The word for house is “oikos.” Perhaps another way to translate this would be “provision” or “storehouse.” Paul exhorts the Romans to offer their bodies as a living sacrifice because of, or on the basis of God’s great provisions for them. He will go on to exhort them to love one another, to use their various gifts in the body, to show hospitality, to bless those who persecute them, and to feed their enemies when they are hungry. The basis for living sacrificially is the provision of God, the storehouse of God’s mercy. In God’s house, there are no shortages. But secondly, notice that Paul urges them to offer their bodies (plural) as a living sacrifice (singular). And it is evident that this is on purpose since Paul goes on to say that although there are many members in the one body, we being many are one body, and individually members of one another. And this begins to explain how it is not insane to live with sacrificial abandon. It is because we are part of a family, a house over which God rules, in which the Spirit works His gifts and mercies according to His wisdom. And the source of this grace and mercy, the one sacrifice in which all are made one, is this meal, our crucified King, our Savior, our Lord, our Husband. This meal means not only that your sins are forgiven, but that you are part of a family, a house, and the Lord of this house is the King of the world and all that we need is ours through Him. So as you offer the bread and wine to one another, consider the bread and the wine our salvation in Christ, but also consider how that salvation is mediated through the Church, through the body of Christ. Consider these gifts of bread and wine to prefigure the gifts that you are going to give one another at Christmas, the bills you might help one another pay when things are hard, the countless ways we must give to one another in this family, in this house, so that we can be the provisions of God to and for another, so that we might all together and with all the saints become that one living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God in Christ. And this means joyful generosity overflowing in love. So come to the feast.

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