With raising support for my upcoming church planting residency, I’ve been thinking and talking more about sacrifice recently. I’m calling people to sacrifice and we’re sacrificing in new ways. What does that call to sacrifice really look like, what does it really mean?
Romans 12:1 says this:
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”
We are a sacrifice. And not just once, but continually, this is how we worship God. I heard a quote the other day that said the problem with a living sacrifice is that it keep crawling off the altar. A living sacrifice is one that requires constant attention.But do we even get what a sacrifice is? For us rich people living in the first world, we often think sacrifice is what we do with the overflow. After we’ve had our fill, if there’s something left over, we will give it away. We’ll call it a sacrifice then feel good about ourselves. But that’s not a sacrifice at all.
Real sacrifice is giving something at a cost to ourselves, out of gospel generosity.
This is not religious legalism. Religious legalism says that if you must give in order to be accepted. As opposed to religious legalism, gospel generosity says that because we’ve already been accepted and been given everything, we are not beheld to what we’ve been given here on earth, so we can now freely give to others.
They both might look similar on the outside, but only the generosity that comes from being formed by the freeing good news is truly the work of a changed heart. And if we’re called to do this constantly, only the one with a changed heart can sustain this otherwise impossible call.
Sacrifices can, and should, look like a varied amount of things. Money is often what we think of first, but we are called to sacrifice our lives. Our lives are surely bigger than our finances. So that does include our money, but that also includes our time, our thoughts, our emotions and affections, our interests. Everything.
This is a protest of the current world order. In the West, we pride ourselves on our own freedom, doing what we want to do. When others who aren’t believers yet see believers live out their faith this way we are giving them a picture of John 17:20–21:
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
Why would we want to give this up? We sacrifice for the things we love, for things that are bigger than us. As a Christian, God already loves us, we’re already accepted. This good news is too good to be true…but it is! This is a God who loves us despite our best attempts to kick Him out of our lives. Our foundation is that we’ve received such a love. Out of God’s love towards us, we love God. And if we love God more than our possessions or our freedom, we will gladly give them to Him to be used for His glory.