A LIVING SACRIFICE

Posted: July 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

Last night, Beth shared with me this quote by Brian Fikkert, the co-author of When Helping Hurts.

…work is an act of worship. When people seek to fulfill their callings by glorifying God in their work, praising Him for their gifts and abilities, and seeing both their efforts and its products as an offering to Him, then work is an act of worship to God. On the other hand, when work is done to glorify oneself or merely to achieve more wealth, it becomes worship of false gods. How we work and for whom we work really matters.

The above quote makes me think of Paul’s words in Romans 12:1 AMP.

I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship.

I then think of the famous quote by Jim Elliot.

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.

The pressure to conform to the world and to fashion our Christianity to fit our culture is simply too strong for most believers to break from.  Our Christianity then becomes like a flat coke:  No fizz, no kick, no punch, no strength, no satisfaction.

Francis Chan in  Crazy Love writes,

Something is wrong when our lives make sense to unbelievers. 

Perhaps it wouldn’t be stretching it too far to say,

Something, as well,  is wrong when our lives  make sense to believers.

Perhaps we could even say,

Something is wrong when our lives make sense to ourselves.

 

Steve Douglass writes,

Jesus may ask you to put down your net in an impossible, unreasonable place.

Perhaps Douglass was thinking of when Jesus came upon Simon Peter after Peter and others had been fishing all night with no results. Luke 5: 1-7 NLT:

One day as Jesus was preaching on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, great crowds pressed in on him to listen to the word of God. He noticed two empty boats at the water’s edge, for the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. Stepping into one of the boats, Jesus asked Simon, its owner, to push it out into the water. So he sat in the boat and taught the crowds from there.When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.”“Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking.
Simon Peter listened to Jesus although it didn’t make sense to go out and let down the  nets again as he and the others  had fished all night without catching a single fish.  Yet when they did listen, look what happen.
Sometimes it seems to me that we have God packaged up in a tidy, neat,  box.  Anything that does not fit into our box is then suspect.  Randy MacMillan writes,

When God moves out of the ordinary, along with the surprise comes the temptation to criticize what we don’t rationally understand. 

Several years ago, our daughter Morgan had finished nursing school, and she volunteered at a place here in Haiti for those terminally ill with TB and AIDS.  It was a place that I had been to once or twice but it had been some years.  They loved having her especially since she speaks English, French, and Creole.  One day I arrived early to pick her up and I saw a man  there cutting the patients’ hair.  I asked one of the workers who he is and was told that he is a catholic priest and that is what he does.  Daily he would cut the hair of the terminally ill  patients as he spoke of and showed them God’s love.

I often think about this man, and wonder how he adds up in the present world that wants to see results in numbers.  How many students do you support? How many people do you feed?  How many bags of rice and beans do you give? How many churches do you have? How many schools do you have?  How many people work for the mission?  How many confessions of faith in the past 12 months?

I wonder why, even in the church, success is often judged by numbers.  I wonder what it means to give our lives as a holy sacrifice.  I wonder if the call of God is often ignored or rejected because it may not be what we like, want, or planned.

I not too long ago asked someone if he would do something in church.  He said, “No” because he didn’t like doing it.  I admit that I was confused, as I didn’t understand what him not liking what I asked him to do, had  to do with him doing or not doing it.  I still don’t get it. Sometimes I wonder if we don’t even consider what God may be asking us to do because it is something we don’t like or it may not fit into our plans or we think that there is no way God would ask us to do that because He  knows that’s simply not us.
Part of giving and surrendering your life to God, is acknowledging  that God will spend you where He sees best.  Are you willing to be so spent?  Are you willing to pray as Christ did in the garden, “Not my will but your will.”   Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote,

When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.

Paul writes in Colossians 3:17, 23

  17Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. 23 Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men…

I think of the words of Elisabeth Elliot and I pray that we will know what it is to be submissive to His lordship.

Until the will and the affections are brought under the authority of Christ, we have not begun to understand, let alone to accept, His lordship. 

YES LORD, MAY IT BE SO IN OUR LIVES!

John McHoul

Follow on twitter <mchoulj>

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Comments
  1. Kathy Tonagel says:

    SOOO much to think upon in this article… how is my attitude at work, and at home. I will read it again.

  2. Tara says:

    preach.

  3. Agnes says:

    Thank you John for the good word! Too much “culture” in our chuches.

  4. Nick says:

    Well, my life doesn\’t make sense to unbelievers, believers, or myself, so I took comfort in this article. Oddly, I\’ve never been more at peace with my future!

  5. [...] took comfort in John McHoul’s latest post about our lives being Living Sacrifices.  He said, among other things, something may be wrong [...]

  6. zach says:

    AMEN AMEN AMEN AMEN THAT IS THE TRUTH

  7. Leah says:

    1 Peter 4:3,4

    ” For the time that has passed by is sufficient for you to have worked out the will of the nations when you proceeded in deeds of loose conduct lusts, excesses with wine, revelries, drinking matches, and illegal idolatries. Because you do not continue running with them in this course to the same low debauchery, they are puzzled and go on speaking abusively of you.”

    To the world your great conduct in following Jesus Christ’s path would not make sense to them because it is not what they are doing. :)

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