I had some very interesting conversations recently. One of the conversations I had involved a guy who hates the fact that he struggles with porn. It has been a constant battle for him since he was an adolescent. He wants to wholeheartedly love Jesus, but he deeply battles this great darkness. Another conversation I had involved a guy who really wants to live a life for Jesus as long as he does not have to give up anything hard.
Is it just me, or do these conversations sound like similar ones Jesus had when he walked on this earth 2,000 years ago? The disciples did not understand a life that would take up cross. They did not comprehend a life of sacrifice. They had no compartment for “servant leadership”.
If we were honest, I think we would say that we struggle with the same things the disciples struggled with 2,000 years ago. The cross is painful. Sacrifice is costly. Serving is hard. When you read Jesus’ words in the Gospels and Paul’s letters in the New Testament, you walk away from that knowing that a life for Jesus is a life of sacrifice!
It is the life that Jesus wants for His followers, and it mirrors the sacrificial system of the Old Testament. The only difference is the animals aren’t the sacrifices. Our lives are. Before you say I am teaching works based salvation, please hear me out.
Jesus sacrificed His life for us on the cross, and rose again three days later. I get to receive Him freely as a gift of grace. As a response to this incredible grace gift, then I have no other choice but to live my life in wholehearted sacrifice to Him. This is what Romans 12:1 teaches. Paul writes:
I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
I get the chance to live my life as a sacrifice for Him. One day I will get the chance to say what Paul said in 2 Timothy 4:6-7.
I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
If my life is lived as a sacrifice, then the end of my life is the drink offering poured out for Him! It is an incredible privilege to get to live this way, but too often I let my own stuff get in the way of living as God intended.
My prayer for this new year is that I, that we, would let Jesus remove the stuff that gets in our way so we can greatly indulge in Him and His love so that I, that we, would live lives of sacrifice for Him!