Our Reasonable Service

Paul tells us in Romans 12:1 to present our “bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God which is our reasonable service.” This phrase “reasonable service” means “rational/spiritual worship.”

It is important to note that the word translated “reasonable” in the KJV holds both meanings, rational and spiritual. This is important because Paul is not saying, as we often think, that our service to God is not excessive or unfair, that God is only requiring of us what is reasonable. Rather, he is saying that our worship is spiritual in contrast to the carnal sacrifices of the old covenant, and it is rational in the sense that the forms and order of worship come as the Spirit directs our mind to understand the revelation of new covenant worship.

This flows directly out of his teaching in Romans 8 (see 8:5-8 in particular) about fulfilling the righteousness of the Law by receiving a spiritual mind in Christ. We worship according to a new way of thinking. Our worship is not “conformed to this world”—that is, the old covenant world order—but it is “transformed by the renewing of our mind.” This is worship according to the “good, acceptable, and perfect will of God.”

This means, then, that new covenant worship must have a balance of rationality and spirituality.

Now, I do not mean to impose our current concerns upon the text and assume that Paul was facing then exactly what we face today. But I do believe that Scripture has a timeless way of speaking to every generation. Scripture does speak to the problems we face in worship today.

Certainly we are not dealing today with Judaizers exactly as Paul was then, and Paul was not dealing with the high church vs. free church problem exactly as we are. However, the principle still applies. Worship must be carefully balanced between the tendency toward hyper-rationality and hyper-spirituality. We must blend both aspects of divine/human interaction as we worship. We must worship rationally with the intellectual mind, and we must worship spiritually with the emotional heart. This seems only reasonable.

Published by Steve Pixler

Steve Pixler is lead pastor of Freedom Life Church in Mansfield, TX. Steve lives in Mansfield with his wife, Jeana, and their six children.

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