The Upper Room Devotion for Thursday, August 24, 2023, was written by Mike C. Bertoglio from Georgia.
1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. 3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. 6 We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; 7 ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; 8 the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.
Romans 12:1-8 NRSV
As we left our hotel while on a recent trip, I noticed several plants in the lobby. They all looked healthy. One in particular, an orchid, I reached out to touch a leaf. The leaf felt stiff. Then I noticed the "soil" in the container was not real. Neither was the plant. Nearer to the door were two other plants I did not recognize. They also had beautiful leaves, but no flowers. I reached out to touch a leaf, assuming it was fake. Then I noticed a brown spot at the end of another leaf. To my surprise it was a real plant! The too-perfect plant was not real. The plant with the blemish was the real one.
The world expects us to have a perfect appearance - perfect skin and the ideal weight, perfect partners, and perfect children. Yet pursuing that kind of perfection does not always lead to abundant life. The Bible reminds us not to live according to the false pretenses of the world, where perfect looks are all too frequently emphasized. Rather, we are to focus on the internal gifts and graces and on the renewing of our minds. Jesus loved those with blemishes and those on the margins of society. Likewise, we can learn to love ourselves, even though we are imperfect.
Pastor Anthony's Thoughts
God has not called us to be perfect, rather God has called us to be consistent, faithful, and grace filled. As United Methodist, striving for perfection means that we seek to have God's perfect love fill our hearts and souls completely. I invite you to re-read Mike's reflection and ask yourself: What do I need to allow God to transform in me, so that my mind may be renewed?
O God, help us to love ourselves and to accept our blemishes, realizing they are signs of our humanity. In the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.