How Reasonable is Our “Reasonable Service”?

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I’ve spent a little more than the last 5 years of my career working as a banker.  You rarely will see me in the lobby as I’ve always worked in a position that stayed in the background.  For over a year now, I have worked as the Director of Training.  That means I have to make sure everyone else at the bank knows how to do their jobs.  I hold regular training sessions that cover various topics related to the bank.  One training that I conduct probably more than any other is called “The Laws of Negotiable Instruments”.  (I promise it’s more interesting than it sounds.)

This training basically teaches you the laws that govern checks and their endorsements.  In Tennessee, not only are there certain steps that a bank must take when processing a check, but there are actually laws that tell the customers what they are supposed to do as well.  One of those laws, known as Presentment (§ 47-3-501), actually states that the customer is required to provide reasonable identification if requested by the bank.  The law doesn’t really define what is “reasonable”.  Could the bank require you to provide a vile of blood in order to cash a check?  There’s no doubt about it…they would have you properly identified.  But reasonable?  Probably not.  Asking you to provide some type of identification to prove that you are who you say you are, that is reasonable.

So the question comes back to what you define as reasonable.

When it comes to our Christian lives, God didn’t leave it up to our own interpretation of what is considered reasonable for our dedication to Him.  In Romans 11, Paul was explaining to the church at Rome that they had figuratively become a grafted branch on the olive tree after some branches of the Israelites had fallen off.  Because of this, it appears that some of the Gentile Christians had an inflated ego thinking they were something special and better than the Israelites.  However, Paul explains to them that they shouldn’t start getting a big head, because if God “didn’t spare the natural branches” then He might not spare them either (Romans 11:21).

So how were they to keep from having their branch figuratively cut off from the olive tree after it had been grafted in?  Paul answers that in Romans 12:1-2 —  “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 do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

The Gentiles (and, in turn, we today) should live as a “living sacrifice”.  But that sounds kind of rough.  Thinking back to the Mosaic Law, things didn’t turn out great for the animals being sacrificed.  It always cost them their lives.  So like a bank asking for a vile of blood to cash a check, is it unreasonable for God to ask us to be a living sacrifice.

There’s a couple things we must remember when thinking through this:

  1. Aren’t we actually called to die to ourselves (Romans 6:5-8)?  Paul taught the Christians in Ephesus that they were no longer supposed to live as the rest of the Gentiles lived, blinded by their own ignorance (Ephesians 4:17-24).  When we become a child of God, our old self should be forever gone (dead), and we should exist as a new man.
  2. Was it reasonable for Jesus to have to literally become a sacrifice for me?  He didn’t figuratively die.  He was brutally tortured and murdered by one of the most gruesome means that man has ever conceived.  What right do we have to question the reasonableness of what is required of us?  How could our sacrifice even begin to compare to the sacrifice that was made for us.  It’s like comparing apples and airplanes.  One doesn’t even begin to compare to the other.

May we never question whether or not we have given enough of ourselves to Christ.  We haven’t, and we never will.  Whatever He requests of me in return for having my branch grafted into the olive tree, I should be more than willing to provide.  Not only is it reasonable to be a living sacrifice, it’s the least that we can do.