by Nicole Serrano
If you’ve been in the church world for even five minutes, I’m sure you’ve heard someone talk about “offering ourselves as living sacrifices of worship.” But what does that really mean? How do we actually do that? Being a pastor’s kid and basically being raised on the front pew, I find myself readily spouting out commonly used "Christianese" phrases and answers that I know are the right answers, even if I don’t really know why they're the right answers or what they honestly mean. Like every little kid in Sunday school - “Who loves you?… JESUS! When is your birthday… JESUS!” Somehow He is always the right answer.
I’ve been on a spiritual search lately; chasing down the implications of basic faith principles I’ve accepted my whole life. I’m honestly not sure why I haven’t done that earlier, so let me maybe save you some time. Let me share from my experience to yours, let me encourage you today that wherever you're at, whatever is currently going on, whatever has got you freaked out or stressed or excited or anxious, these three things are true for you…
1- You are deeply, richly, and specifically loved by God.
2- You are not alone.
3- You are going to be okay.
Personally, I’ve found those three things to be massively comforting. And they really are true.
I want to keep this simple. This verse has had my heart churning for a few weeks, and I want to share what I’ve found. Focus simply on the hope in this text, and try not to let yourself overcomplicate it. Do we have a deal?
Philippians 2:12-13 says this: "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God Who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure."
The concept of working out my own salvation has always been slightly terrifying to me. On one hand, Jesus already did the work of giving us salvation and eternal security, but the fact that it’s directed back to us, being called “our” salvation… is interesting to me. It’s something that belongs to us, something that’s been given to us, and something we now own and are now responsible for. This then requires us to work through what it means, what it looks like, and the value and effect it has on the rest of our lives. I think it adds a dimension to the word "salvation" that maybe, just maybe, means more than securing a spot in Heaven.
So when we bring it back to the "offering ourselves to Him as an act of worship" discussion, it makes me think - how can I offer myself?
Mind, body, spirit, and soul.
That’s all of it. The whole thing. The good, the bad, the gross. The dreams, the hurts, the unfulfilled desires and expectations. It requires me to come out of hiding. I know I’ve spent countless years trying to hide the parts I don’t like, even from myself, by means of self-medicating, detaching, suppressing, distracting, ignoring; as if any of that takes care of it. But true honest worship requires me to bring all of myself, to own all the parts of me, and bring them into the light of His love – the shadowed parts that I’ve left untouched and hidden, and the hurting parts that I don’t want to remember or even look at. This passage is asking us not to excuse or dismiss struggles or sins by simply labeling them as “bad” and doing everything in our power to muscle through and avoid them next time. Instead, it challenges us to work out our salvation, offering ourselves to our Father by bringing it all to Him. We must invite Jesus into the process, no matter how difficult, how ugly, how painful, saying, “Jesus, You are welcome in the middle of all this." When the stuff hits the fan, when you’re confused or scared or you know you’re about to do something really stupid, it's in those moments that we need to welcome Him in. It’s in that place, when we look at Him, we can see the kindness in His eyes and feel how gentle He truly is with us, His kid. We realize that He’s not mad; He’s not disappointed in who we are. We realize that He’s good and wants a full life for us. But it’s impossible to experience that fullness if we are constantly suppressing and dissociating from the intimate places where He longs to bring restoration, love, and healing.
We can’t offer what we can’t own. It’s in the owning of ourselves that we learn who we really are, how loved we are, and how deep and wide and free the span of His grace for us is.
You are worth it. You’re worth figuring out what you’ve got in your hands. You’re worth the time and energy of figuring out what’s inside. It’s on this journey that we learn how to better invite Jesus into every part of our being and we understand what true worship is. And it’s in that place that we experience peace and joy in our salvation.
Come out of hiding, friends. Come taste and see for yourself. You’re already as loved as you could possibly be.