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Read Romans 12

One of the biggest Christian concerns is to know God’s will.

In the preceding context of Romans 12—that is, from chapter 9 to 11—, Paul talks about the inscrutability of God’s will, showing that it is not available to our comprehension at first sight.
At the end of chapter 11, he drives all of us to a “mystery wall” and says that nobody can discern the Lord’s way.

Interestingly, after saying that he resumes his thinking with the following declaration:

I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasant to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and prove what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.1

God’s will is sovereign and inscrutable, but can be tested and proved.

What can put us in the path of God’s will is not a prophetic revelation of our future, but the conscience in faith concerning the mercy we received—which grafted us into the “olive tree of salvation”.

In this way, the consciousness of our election in God’s love puts us not on the way not of the “knowledge” of God’s will, but the way of experiencing it.
Paul describes—in a simple and non-magical way—the process that leads us to this experience:

1. A conscience that is grateful for the Grace received offers itself fully—the “body” is not only our physical matter, it is our whole being—; it surrenders to God’s love.
2. This surrender to God’s Grace generates joy in our being, and this joy brings about the surrendering of an alive, holy, and pleasant being to God. And this being is only alive because the surrendering is voluntary, it is only holy because it is willfully separated to God, and it is only pleasant because it is pleased to belong to God. That means His will is being accomplished.
3. This conscience implies reasonableness in devotion. It is about our “reasonable service”, 2 not our being in service (worship) of reasonableness. This reasonableness of worship is the surrendering of our conscience as a logical response from the being that, once given Grace, responds to the benefit received with a happy and excited surrendering.

4. This, in the next step, leads the conscience not to want any stagnation at all. The person who surrenders does not find his/her limits in a ritualistic offering; he/she goes on into an existential growing in such surrender. In this way, a total will is established which does not allow the “frames of this world” to regulate the size of the conscience. Such a person welcomes the process of changes and continuous life overhauls. That is, this person does not “con-form” any longer to this world because he/she does not find his/her paradigm in the established order, but in the permanent conversion of his/her conscience to the newly-received understanding according to the revelation of Grace.
The end of this is to experience God’s good, pleasing and perfect will.
Paul goes on to show that this experiencing of God’s will also depends on taking two other stands of conscience in faith:

1. Each person needs to learn that God’s will is personal, not an industrial-scale revelation.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to hisfaith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.3

Therefore, all the emphasis falls on an individuation process in Grace.

Nobody should compare himself/herself to anybody else, or even want to be what he/she is not and who he/she is not.

Everyone has their own gift and calling, and the uniqueness of each gift and calling is equivalent to God’s particular revelation to each one.

2. Each person needs to know that God’s will is revealed as an experiential possibility, not as a magic oracle. Therefore, God does not have to reveal anything about where, how and who somebody will work with, who he/she will get married to or what he will do for a living. However, he says how we should live in any circumstances on the Earth and of life wherever we have been placed, thrown or have fallen:
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord’. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head’.
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” 4

In this way, Paul teaches us in a simple manner that God’s will is not to be known as a previous knowledge of anything, but as a surrender in love which accepts to live in a continuous state of mind renewing which does not seek anything but to be who you are in Christ. Such a person knows that God’s will is not an oracle, but a way of living, in which Grace establishes the relational virtues through which life happen as God’s gift to the world because it is in this human existence that God’s will is being done. And the circumstances where God’s pleasure in his children is manifested do not matter, nor do where He takes joy in his children’s lives.

God’s will is that His children take pleasure in belonging to Him, being who they are, and serving each other with Grace—and, therefore, without rivalry, but with sincerity and freedom to exercise brotherly and mutual love. All this needs to be done with no bitterness or waste of revengeful energy against whomever.
In the end, once again, the righteous will live by faith!

In Him,

Sunday, November 9, 2003, at the crack of down.
Translated by Sara Machado – Massachussets, USA
Revised by F. R. Castelo Branco | May 2007
1 Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)
2 Romans 12:1 (NKJV)
3 Romans 12:3-8 (NIV)
4 Romans 12:9-21 (NIV)
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