Living Sacrifices

It’s the 4th of July here in the States. A time when we celebrate our independence from that monarchy and reign of the British so long ago. I joked it was the original Brexit on a couple of social media platforms because IT WAS. We often take this time in America to show our respect for the Founding Fathers of our quite young nation (look at other countries y’all, we’re pretty green behind the ears still) and honor those who have sacrificed for our country through battles and wars.

We are very sentimental that way as Americans, remembering the sacrifices of others to give us the independence we exercise through tubing on the lake, shooting off fireworks until the neighbors call the cops, and playing Florida Georgia Line at top volume. We like that word sacrifice alot around this time of year, what with Memorial Day and 4th of July, and the regal nature in which we honor those that ultimately sacrificed their lives so that we can not be under a reign of a monarchy or dictatorship.

But I don’t think we like that word being applied to our lives, or what we are asked to do. It’s good for others, but no so much ourselves. Believe me when I say I wrestle with this just as much. Because sacrifice means something has to be given up, it has to be surrendered…or even killed. So I look at Paul’s words to the Romans in chapter 12 and start to see the bigger tension evolving.

“That you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1)

See we are living…breathing…acting…doing…and yet, we are to be sacrificing ourselves for God, to Him, because that is the reasonable response to the God who saves, redeems, loves and sacrificed Himself for us. It means to me I have to kill off myself in every moment, give myself over not to my whims, desires and emotions, but the Spirit within me. Not choosing this world (as Paul continues on telling us) to live into but transformed by Him in every single part of us. It is the surrender of ourselves for the sake of something better-the very best we could ever encounter, God Himself.

So when I want to dwell in this place of sacrifice and seeing how others have given of themselves I cannot help but look at the sacrifice of Christ and the daily act as this living being of sacrificing myself unto Him, His reign, His rule and His will. Not for some selfish pursuit or half-hearted liberty I can conjure up but for the ultimate liberty in Christ.  Not to pursue my own life, but one sacrificed fully for the very best thing…Christ.

Oh that I wish it were as easy as I like to deceive myself that it is. But sacrificing myself and all that selfish desire, ambition and emotion is hard. The person that says it’s easy is lying, but just because it is hard doesn’t mean I give in and lean back into a self-pursued life. It means going hard into transforming my mind, knowing my strength is not my own, but Christ’s in every. single. moment. if I but ask, seek with my heart. Y’all, this Christian life of sacrificial living isn’t easy but it’s worth it. It’s worth it to surrender my attitude, my mouth, my mind, my weakness…every single bit of me even the parts I really don’t want to give up, to know I am serving God in faith.

So where might you need to live as a sacrifice today? What area has God been hammering in on you that needs to be killed off in order to be set apart?

The Straight Comparison

In around the fifth grade my hair mysteriously decided it would be curly. Up until that point it was straight. For years I have gone back and forth in allowing it to be curly or straightening it. My entire Senior year of high school I got every thirty minutes earlier every morning to straighten and hot roll it.

All I wanted was my straight hair back. Then I look around and see friends, people attempting to have curly hair. Gone, for the most part, are the days of perms. But you see the perfectly fake ringlets as women want so badly to have curly hair if they have straight.

In just this small way we see our propensity, a very natural one, to focus in on what we do not have, comparing it to what others do and measuring to see who came out at the top of the leaderboard. We have to fight against that natural part of us that desires to be on top. That desires to be the best or the first.

While not our natural tendency, one that we as Christ followers are called to embrace and weave into our lives is something we should be looking to first. In the world we are told that unless you’re first, you’re last in all things. I think we as believers have even gotten to that point of believing that. Of comparing our work to the work God has given others, or looking at a season one person is in and our own season wondering what they have done to be in theirs while we may be in the desert of our own.

It’s really interesting as lately the comparisons have come in a different way…yet they are still carrying the envy of another’s season of life and not the one I am in. It took me a while to figure that out, that even in a relatively good season of life we compare-even in our walks with Christ-among one another.

I am the world’s best comparer (see, even in that moment I had to be the best at something bad). Yet I am coming to see that where He wants me to be is good. For me. He knows me uniquely. That what I am in now, is what He has known I would be in. That it is for good and not for comparison nor to stir up strife or worry. While we are on the journey together, comparing the strides, the timing and the distance is not something we are called to do. Ultimately God is at work in each of us, specific to what we need. Would I rather be intimately known by the Creator, as He walks with me in my journey, or would I rather He address me as a number? Comparing diminishes the relationship I have with Him, and subsequently, diminishes Him and His sovereignty in my life, in all things.

 

For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Romans 12:4, 5 (NKJV)

He must increase, but I must decrease. John 3:30 (ESV)

Get the Funk Out.

Photo courtesy of Instructables.com
Photo courtesy of Instructables.com

One of the most satisfying and disgusting things in the world for me is to clean. I’m not talking a quick vacuum or Swiffer swipe. I am talking about the using skewers to clean out the lint trap for the dryer, scrubbing the bathroom floor on your hands and knees kind of cleaning. There is something cathartic about getting the funk out of crevices that have built up over time. In recognizing that you may clean the surface, sometimes you have to dig in deeper to get the hard to reach areas scrubbed sufficiently.

The same could be said for life. Often I clean the surface of my life, taking stock of this area or that area, but never going deep in some simply because I am afraid of what I will find deep down. Then you come to realize the funk you have been living in, and how it affects everything around you.

You have lived so long in the funk that it has invaded each crevice, moving slowly but pervasively throughout until your life is a toxic dump site. No one wants that for a life, and soon you see that no one wants to be around that, or you.

It’s time to spring clean the funk out of our lives. Each dark crevice and gap we find, the little nooks where things have piled up or been shoved aside. Let’s not allow our lives to be a hoarding life of junk and funk. Instead let’s recognize we each have to slowly and determinedly remove the funk from it. I know when I realized it, I had thought it had been cleaned out, but when you dig deeper you find the cracks hide the funk well.

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 faith God has distributed to each of you.

Romans 12:3 (NIV)

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. 

Ephesians 4:31, 32 (NIV)