The Apostle Paul talks about a concept the Bible is known for, ‘living a life of sacrifice to God.’
Romans 12:1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.
His last words in this Verse defines worship in a different way than how we often ascribe worship today. True worship is about our sacrifice, not about our dedication to a religious observance. His writings in the next Verse brings even more clarity in how we achieve sacrifice:
Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
This should be our objective in living … right? It is a true saying that whatever we give ourselves to in life we become. People become what their objectives and goals in life are. It works in reverse too … people who have no goals or dreams become stuck with nothing. I’m not sure either case is good for the soul. I often think of death as the great equalizer. Solomon told us in Ecclesiastes Chapter 9 that death happens to us all, and we start all over again in a different world (my paraphrasing). Solomon had a point.
When we die, we stand before God and have that conversation about how we lived our lives. God will reveal to us what He saw and heard. He is not going to commend us for how successful we were or weren’t … He will be more concerned about how faithful we were with our talents. Success will be framed with the idea that we are successful when we are faithful. I am convinced that God is more concerned about how faithful we are to the things that are important to Him.
Faithfulness such as … Is He the top priority in our life? Does He always get the best part of our day and time? Do we consider Him in our decisions and ask Him for direction in our lives? Do we represent Him in how we treat others? Are we as concerned about others as we are about our own families?
I think the Apostle Paul had it right. Worshipping God is all about sacrifice. The renewing of our mind is the ‘cleansing of the palate of the brain,’ so to speak, so that sacrifice becomes the objective in our thinking. Of course, this is contrary to our nature and to our culture. It identifies real Christianity as that thinking that swims upstream, which challenges the standards in our culture. Jesus put it into perspective … our thinking is narrow and it will be in the minority because it does not placate to selfish living or thinking. Jesus said:
Matthew 7 13You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. 14But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.
The narrow gate is about sacrifice, which defines ‘real Christianity.’ If our Christianity demands something from God or thinks God owes us something, we are in great error of misunderstanding the narrow gate and the concept and act of sacrifice in the Apostle Paul’s remarks in Romans Chapter 12. Narrow thinking is shunned by our culture and can be labeled as ‘lacking faith’ in the church culture. Yet, sacrifice is not about us … it is all about God. If our thinking is focused upon how much we can get out of life, or the ‘what’s in it for me mentality,’ are we focused upon God? Our thinking displays our motives, our interests, and our passions … sacrifice is not in the top ten items in our thoughts.
Yet, sacrifice is the true essence of worship to God. We sacrifice because our interests are less important when it comes to giving God our best. Our best is always our sacrifice, which Jesus showed in the story of the poor widow:
Luke 21 1While Jesus was in the Temple, he watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. 2Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins. 3”I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. 4For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.
Our best is always our sacrifice. This is the essence of giving worship to God.
Challenging the Culture with Truth … Larry Kutzler