There is a key component of Christianity missing in many of our lives. If we miss this key ingredient, the Christian life just doesn’t work. Our years sometimes look more like sticky gloopy messes than the… masterpieces that a life in Christ can provide.-Jurie Kriel, Sermon 29 May 2022, Roots – Sacrifice
The key ingredient is sacrifice. No longer is it the “slaughter a goat” type of sacrifice, but sometimes it can feel just as bloody.
When some of us hear that God asks us to sacrifice—to give up our own lives, or to “die to ourselves”—we want to run the other way. Others of us might get prideful, “I give more than 10% of my salary to charity, so I’m good.” Some might feel guilty for not doing enough. All of those responses, I think, come straight out of our misplaced identity. Today, I have a little meditation for you.
First, take a moment to think about all of the things you do. What does today look like? Do you have a quiet time, tasks for work, doctor appointments, homework, and housework? When someone asks, “how are you?” do you often answer “tired” or “busy?” What would you do if you had a day when your calendar was completely empty? Would you feel lost? Bored? Edgy?
Now think about all of your pet peeves. Does it bug you when the guy next to you in a meeting keeps clicking his pen? When your wife leaves her socks on the floor by the bed? When your daughter won’t put away her laundry? When someone is going 20 mph below the posted speed limit, right in front of you on the highway? What would it feel like if none of these things bothered you? What if that buzzing, itching, annoyed feeling were to disappear?
What about your body? What hurts? Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? Do you long for more rest, better health, or better medicine? Do you wish you were taller? Shorter? Stronger? Thinner? Are you on a diet? What if you felt perfectly whole and healthy? Would you wish you had something to complain about?
Consider your beliefs… not your basic, survival beliefs like “people need to drink water,” or “God exists.” I mean your derivative beliefs, like “the Republocrats are right,” or “the Demmicans are right,” or “I should post something about praying for these people or supporting those people on social media,” or “if my kid would just do what I told him to, he’d be much better off.” Think of your doctrinal beliefs, your beliefs about who you are and why, your beliefs about your looks or your social standing or your intelligence. Think about every “should” you throw around every day. What would you feel like if you were to strip away every belief except, “God exists;” “Jesus, His Son, lived and died for me;” and “the Holy Spirit lives in me.” Would you feel panicked? Would you grasp for add-ons and doctrine and identity stuff to paste onto the purity of those core beliefs?
It’s funny how language changes. “Kids these days” have started referring to things as being either “basic” or “extra.” If someone is “basic,” they care mostly about things that are mainstream and trending. If they’re “extra,” they’re being dramatic over nothing.
Our identities have become extra basic. We get spun up over this trend or that one; we get angry about trivialities; we whine about having lunch five minutes late; we pad our faith with doctrines and rituals and rules.
God asks us to sacrifice things we think we can’t live without. He asks us to fast from those things sometimes, to remind us that He is all we need. While many of us think we wish for busy-free, peeve-free, pain-free, or rules-free life, the idea of losing all these trappings makes feel unhinged.
Now that you’ve taken that mental inventory with me, let’s do this. Take your calendar, and pray, “Lord, this is yours not mine. You are outside time, and you know which things in my schedule honor You and bring life to me and my community. Strip away everything I’ve added that I can’t do in a posture of worship for You.”
Take your pet peeves and pray, “Lord, these are trivial things that bring me irritation with others, rather than bringing peace. Your peace is better. Calm my heart and make me more forgiving.”
Take your earthly form and pray, “God, You have given me this body as a dwelling place on this earth. I know that one day, You will give me a body to live in after my resurrection, and that body will be perfect. Until then, please heal me where Your will allows it, and give me peace over what you allow me to continue to bear.”
Finally, take your doctrines and baggage and trauma, and pray, “Father, I know that You are God. You made everything, and You made me. You are outside time, so you are already in my future. Since You live in me, I can trust that You will guide me if I submit to You. Help my unbelief, and remind me when I am clinging to something You would have me release.”
Breathe in. Breathe out. Visualize this:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.Genesis 1:1-2, NKJV
Hover here, for a moment, with God. Ask Him what He wants to do with you, in this stripped-down, pared-down form. See, if you lay down all that you are, you become a vessel waiting to be filled with His purposes, His love, His healing light, and His truth. Jesus is better wine to fill your vessel with than any wine you could’ve made on your own.
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