What would it cost on the black market to get a security pass that grants access to the government computers of a world power? With the access comes the ability to get in and do things that change the outcome of history.

This is but a faint reflection of the possibilities that are ours in Christ, with the added bonus for us that it is all perfectly legal and above board. We have been given access to the most sensitive place in the universe, and there we have been authorized to make a difference.

We saw in our previous post that we are like Zadok's sons: we have been given the highest possible security clearance to access the holiest of places. This is what it means to be a royal priesthood.

It is often noted that one of the amazing things about Jesus is that he is both the priest and the sacrifice. This point is particularly stressed in Hebrews. What is less often appreciated is that in Christ we share that dual role. It is the implication of what Paul says in the familiar verse in which he appeals to us to "present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God" (Romans 12:1). We are to both do the presenting and to be presented; we are the priest and the offering.

In both regards this is holy and acceptable behavior. No alarm bells will start ringing in heaven when we start to do it; no angelic security guards will swarm to throw us out. As priests we have been given our security clearance: this royal priesthood is a holy nation of people he has hand-picked for the job (1Pet 2:9).

But what is remarkable is not simply the fact that we have been authorized to act as priests in the holy place; it is also incredible to see what we have been given clearance to offer. The screening process in Old Testament times was very rigorous, and it applied not only to the identity of the people allowed to put the offerings on the altar; it also scrutinized the things that were allowed to be offered. The animals that were offered had to pass through a screening process more comprehensive than that which protects our airports. Nothing with any blemish or deformity got through. The sacrifices had to be pure if they were to be holy and blameless in God's sight.

Yet in Romans 12, what Paul tells the priests that they have to offer is their bodies. The first part of the letter has laid out the blessings of the power of the Gospel. We have been justified. That's why we have access to the holy place (Romans 5:1,2). What's more, we are being sanctified as the truth of the gospel transforms our minds and hearts. But the one part of the salvation process that remains still future is the redemption of our bodies (Romans 8:23). We're still waiting for that. And for now, our cry concerning the blemishes and imperfections and weaknesses and diseases that contaminate our mortal bodies is, as Paul's was: "Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?" (Rom 7:24). Paul was thrilled that the answer was clear - God would do so through Jesus Christ. But not yet.

And now he has the audacity to proclaim that the very thing that we are to offer on a daily basis is this body, this earthly existence in a physical frame that is still marred with all the effects of the fall as it awaits its final glorification. Such is the power of the Gospel: even that which remains in practice blemished and marred, real people still living in real bodies, struggling with real problems, is granted the security clearance of that which is "holy and acceptable to God". Made so through the work of Christ.

And despite all that remains as still to be worked out in these mortal bodies, we have the privilege of taking them through God's screening process into the very control centre of the universe and offering them as living sacrifices that by the power of his Spirit can make a difference to the outcome of history. What we do in these bodies, incomplete as their redemption still is, really matters. People won't hear if these feet don't walk and these mouths don't speak (Rom 10:14,15). God wants our bodies to be on the table, available for the Supreme Commander in the Holy Space in Mission Control in the Heavenly Houston to use in his strategic plans to save the world.

0 comments: