Christian Living Begins With Surrender

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
-Romans 12:1 (NIV)

When God changed my life, a word that came to my mind, over and over, was, "Surrender".  I discovered that God wanted me, all of me.  Even though I knew God and was a Christian; God was calling me to enter into a surrendered life.  I began to experience living a surrendered life to God.

In the evangelical culture I am familiar with, one thing we do is play worship music in our cars or in our homes, or walk through the bustling city streets, with earbuds on, listening to our favorite worship music and letting it stir our souls.

Nothing is wrong with that.  But that is not what Romans 12:1 is talking about.

God wants our lives.  God wants our whole lives, lock stock and barrel, given over to Him.  Jesus' message was that to follow him, we must give up everything, or it will not work.

Romans 12 is the beginning of the section of Romans on Christian living. We call this 'orthopraxy'. The beginning section of Romans is about true and correct (right) doctrine, and we call that 'orthodoxy'. And the center section of Romans is about the heart: true or correct heart or affections, and we call that 'orthopathy' or 'orthokardia'.

We need to know what the previous eleven chapters covered in order to understand what the 'therefore' in verse one of Romans twelve is there for. The 'therefore' is saying, "In the light of the teachings on doctrine and affections, this is how you should then live".

And the first thing that Paul says, is to live a life of worship. 

 Knowing the truth puts our hearts in awe and wonder, then leads us to love God and love others. Having come to that place, then how do we begin to live? Worship is how.  

A surrendered life of sacrifice to God: living for God and serving God in my whole life.

Worship is not an event, time or place; but a lifestyle. Without a worship lifestyle, the right knowledge and touched heart will not lead to a godly life; but will devolve into a carnal, selfish life. A lifestyle of worship is not optional, but is essential.

When we do gather with other Christians, to worship and praise God together, we a coming from surrendered lives of sacrifice; where we have been living in worship and a lifestyle.

The Old Covenant call of, "Come let us go up to the temple of the Lord and worship our God", has passed away.  In the New Covenant, you and I are the temple of God; and we worship God by giving him our bodies, our lives and all our living throughout each week.

The 'christian' who opts out, does not get it, or bypasses worship as a lifestyle will not live the life as it is intended to be lived, and will miss out, suffer and be something like a bird who never flies, but walks through life, occasionally flapping its wings and getting a few feet off the ground, like a turkey.

Romans 12 could be titled 'Christian Living', and the beginning or foundation of Christian living is giving everything to God. Specifically and foundationally, this is done with our bodies. From our bodies we live our lives and so we must first give our bodies completely to God, so that we can participate with God in living the life God has for us to live, through our living bodies.

The Christian life begins with offering our bodies to God as living sacrifices. Everything that our bodies need, want and desire: all of our body's functions are first given to God. This is what a Christian is.

The Passion Translation has Romans 12:1 this way:
Beloved friends, what should be our proper response to God's marvelous mercies?  I encourage you to surrender yourselves to God to be his sacred, living sacrifices.  And live in holiness, experiencing all that delights his heart.  For this becomes your genuine expression of worship.
The Message has Romans 12:1 like this:
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.
Surrender.  Freedom, joy and fulfillment come from surrendering to God.