Bodies, Membership and Generous Spaciousness by Brian Walsh

This past weekend, a wonderful group of folks gathered at Russet House Farm for our first Generous Space CampOUT.  LGBTQ+ folks, parents, and allies were beautifully hosted by the Keesmaat-Walsh family.  Brian Walsh and Sylvia Keesmaat are in the final stages of writing their commentary on the book of Romans – and many of us who have read their other published works are eagerly awaiting its release!  We were so blessed to have them share at the CampOUT some of their work.  Brian has given us permission to share this reflection with our broader community so that those who couldn’t come camping will have the opportunity to engage.

Bodies, Membership and Generous Spaciousness

A reflection on Romans 12.1-8 for the Generous Spaciousness Camp Out.

August 1, 2015

by Brian Walsh

Tomorrow is my 46th birthday.

Yea, I know that I look a lot older, but its true.

Tomorrow is my 46th birthday.

You see, on August 2, 1969, I was baptized in Lake Chandos, north of Peterborough, near the town of Apsley.

And I mark that day, as something of a birthday.

That day, I engaged in a very bodily act of being immersed in a cool lake on a very cold and windy day.

And this evening – the eve of my birthday – we read St. Paul appealing to all Christians to do something with their bodies.

“I urge you, therefore, by the mercies of God to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

Here we are, ¾’s of the way through this 16 chapter letter, and Paul sets up his appeal with a “therefore.”

“Therefore” I urge you …

Therefore. What’s the therefore, there for?

Well here the apostle is saying that if everything that he has written thus far is true,

if this magnificent, though admittedly complex, story of God’s mercy to Jews first and then to Gentiles is true;

if it is true that when we were yet sinners Christ died for us;

if it is true that this mercy extends to all of creation, waiting in eager longing for the revelation of the children of God;

if it is true that we ourselves, in concert with the Holy Spirit await our adoption, the redemption of our very bodies;

if it true that the depths and riches and wisdom and knowledge of God is unsearchable;

if it is true that from him, through him, and to him are all things, and that all glory is his forever;

if all of this is true … then what?

If all of this is true then I urge you, the apostle writes,

I appeal to you with all that I’ve got,

to offer your bodies as living sacrifices,

holy and pleasing to God.

Now he could have made it more simple.

He could have said, “Therefore I urge you, in view of God’s mercy to offer up your spiritual worship.”

He could have just called them to worship.

And that would have been the right response, wouldn’t it?

After all, this is God we are talking about. And if God has done great things in our lives, then isn’t worship the only appropriate response?

But Paul doesn’t just call us to worship, he unpacks what the heart of such worship is – bodies, offered up as living sacrifices, bodies that are holy and acceptable – that is spiritual worship.