Sacrifices Today

A common scripture we may hear is Romans 12:1-2.

Let’s read this and see again what it says:
So, brothers and sisters, because of God’s mercies, I encourage you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God. This is your appropriate priestly service. Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is—what is good and pleasing and mature. (‭Romans‬ ‭12‬:‭1-2‬ CEB)

What is something you noticed? As I was going about my day, the notion of a “living sacrifice” kept coming up in my thoughts.

Dictionary.com defines sacrifice as
noun
1. the offering of animal, plant, or human life or of some material possession to a deity, as in propitiation or homage.
2. the person, animal, or thing so offered.
3. the surrender or destruction of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim.

Thinking about this, I wandered if we are “living sacrifices” so others can see Christ in us.

Jesus Christ made the ultimate sacrifice on the cross. Yes, we are called to “die daily” to ourselves, and “pick up our cross daily;” but these are figurative.

Sacrifice can be anything from giving money away we could us to taking someone’s place in death to save them. If we are to be “living sacrifices,” what have we done today or what can we do tomorrow?

One of the things I enjoy sacrificing is my time. Sure I have plenty to do; but the opportunity to spend quality time with another person is incredible. What I am freely able to give is my time. I could pick up a phone and call someone and talk; but it is so much more fun and meaningful (for me) to sit and give undivided time face to face.

In a world where sacrificing seems to be a taboo lifestyle because we have to look out for ourselves, we have the chance to show greater love, care, compassion when we really give of ourselves. This is how we won’t be “conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds (Romans‬ ‭12‬:2).

Now it’s your turn. How do you think you can be a “living sacrifice” to someone (family, friend, co-worker, acquaintance, stranger) the next time you leave the comfort of your home?

Judging & Dividing

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When we look at our world today, it is easy to see divisions on many grounds. We have divisive politics, economic standards, acceptable social practices, how people need to view other people’s way of life, etc. These are challenging times we live in and it is sometimes difficult to take a stand on one side or the other without being ostracized and downgraded by opposing sides.

One of the biggest issues we face today is how we can do the loving thing to our neighbor so the love of God through Jesus Christ can be shown. The phrase “WWJD” is thrown around a lot and people use this to ask “What Would Jesus Do?” This has become a very divisive phrase since people have a particular viewpoint based on “their interpretation” of the Bible.

Matthew 7:1-5 says, “Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged. You’ll receive the same judgment you give. Whatever you deal out will be dealt out to you. Why do you see the splinter that’s in your brother’s or sister’s eye, but don’t notice the log in your own eye? How can you say to your brother or sister, ‘Let me take the splinter out of your eye,’ when there’s a log in your eye? You deceive yourself! First take the log out of your eye, and then you’ll see clearly to take the splinter out of your brother’s or sister’s eye.”

These verses have been used to point out the “other person’s” errors and that “they” need to be more loving and compassionate. These verses come straight out of the Sermon on the Mount which deals mainly with how to live with our fellow neighbors. If you or I believe we are the ones in the right, we will typically explain to the opposing person why they are wrong and try to belittle them into feeling bad for having a “wrong” viewpoint which is really different from ours.

What could these verses from Matthew be telling us today? Let’s look at them again. Notice it does not explicitly give which side is right. It is really saying that before we go around telling another person why their wrong, maybe there is a reason they believe themselves to be right. What if we simply took time to listen instead of writing the other person off? Also, we should be careful that we are not being hypocrites and try to think we are better than the other person, because the truth is that we all have a “log” in our own eye and should work to remove that first.

Have you ever noticed how we have been given opportunities to “love” a sports team, political party, school, religious teaching and automatically demonize the other side? Think of it like this, “if you like (or love) UT, OU is the evil enemy and visa versa.” This can really be applied to anything we “love.”

So basically, before we (no matter what side on ANY issue) try to demonize or belittle the opposition, maybe we can realize they have value as well. Maybe, instead of thinking we are the ones in the “right,” we could take some time and understand where the other person is coming from.

If we acted this way, we can easily change “WWJD” to “WHJD.” Instead of asking “What Would Jesus Do?” we could remember “What Has Jesus Done?” The answer to this is simple: he ate with the sinners, welcomed and ate with the outcasts, prayed (and prays) for people (you and me), discipled people society thought unworthy, lived a life we don’t live, died for our sins and for us. Remembering what Jesus has done can change our way of thinking and could help us move the Kingdom of God closer to those who need to experience it instead of arguing over who’s right and who’s wrong.

The mission Jesus entrusted to his disciples, and to us, is still to be witnesses and bring people to Christ not showing a division and pushing people away from Christ.