The Age to Come

Romans 12:1-2

So, my dear family, this is my appeal to you by the mercies of God: offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. Worship like this brings your mind into line with God’s.

What’s more, don’t let yourself be squeezed into the shape dictated by the present age. Instead be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you can work out what God’s will is, what is good, acceptable, and complete.

I know these verses are extremely popular, but they’re so darn good, especially N.T. Wright’s translation of them as you see above from his New Testament For Everyone.

There’s a ridiculous amount of pure awesomeness pouring out here in just a few lines–like in so much of Holy Scripture. Let’s just look at a few facets.

When Paul writes “bodies”, he likely means the whole person, and from the context (“So…”), he means you are to offer the body that died to sin and is now the temple of the Holy Spirit. You’ve already died with Christ, now you are a living sacrifice, which could have the connotation that we are to offer ourselves to God continually.

Like marriage, the Christian life is not a one time decision that automatically makes us do the right thing all the time. We must do our part of tapping in to the Spirit which will direct us if we so allow.

And we cannot live the Christian life while having the world’s mindset which it tries to force upon us. Right thinking is non-negotiably required for Kingdom living. You must have a change of thinking from what the world once led you to believe. We no longer pursue all the shiny things the world would have us believe are worthy pursuits. We pursue God and all that God loves and desires for us and the whole world.

The present age.

Jewish thinkers (Paul included) by the time of Jesus divided  world history into “the present age” and “the age to come”. The present age is characterized by rebellion against God, and the corruption and death which result. The age to come is when God would give new life to the world and humankind, decisively bringing justice, joy, and peace once and for all.

The early Christians believed that, although the full blessings of the coming age lay still in the future, it had already begun with Jesus, particularly with his death and resurrection, and that by faith and baptism they were able to enter it already.

“Eternal life” does not mean simply “existence continuing without end”, but “the life of the age to come”.

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