“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.” ~ Romans 12:1
I went hiking with a friend today and it was a lovely experience. Each of us had a wiggly little baby in a backpack, which made for patient company on said hike. We had a great time and our kiddos enjoyed the sunshine and the trip.
On my drive down the mountain, I found myself thinking wistful thoughts. As the road wound its way through the canyon, I realized that I would be arriving at home just about the same time that my husband would have gotten home from work, had everything gone according to plan. It made me wish that I had a magic wand and I could wave it over my life for the last year and prang everything back to the way I thought it would be before he died. (I’ll bet you didn’t know prang was a verb, did you?) And in what I deemed to be a particularly cruel twist of fate, I ended up following the city van that he used to carpool in every day on his commute back into town.
By this point, I was feeling pretty sorry for myself, but I could still feel that God was working on my heart when it came to understanding some pretty big spiritual things. He reminded me that through my husband’s death, at least two people came to know Him. In God’s economy, that is the real importance – and what we’re here for. My earthly loss was their eternal gain. Through the witness of my husband’s short life, two people made a decision that will literally change their lives forever. And I have no way of knowing how many more will be able to thank my husband, for living the life that he did, regardless of length, when they arrive in heaven. His life truly became a living sacrifice.
To be a living sacrifice as this verse commands is an incredibly difficult task. We can’t get there by sitting at home and being careful about our lives. When I think about the early Christians in Rome hearing these verses, the full weight of Paul’s word choice must have felt a bit heavier. To think of living in a world where you could literally, at any moment, be thrown into the arena to slake the hunger of a bloodthirsty crowd just for your beliefs is frightening. I wonder what these fearless believers think when they look down from heaven as we talk about being living sacrifices in our air conditioned churches, sitting on cushioned pews, while a pastor proudly proclaims the Word in a country where religious freedom is law. I know if it were me, I’d be tempted to roll my eyes and say they have no idea what they’re talking about.
But I think, in that regard, our challenge to be living sacrifices is much more difficult. In the days of Nero, being a living sacrifice was a very black and white decision. Either you were willing to live and die for Christ, or you weren’t. You couldn’t waffle back and forth on the issue. If you were going to follow Him, then you were all in. Christianity today offers lots of creature comforts, but it means if you want to throw your lot all in with Christ, you’re going to have to work at it. Our society makes it easy to be a Sunday Christian, but to really be a living sacrifice, you need to make a choice to closely follow after Him.
Every day you have the opportunity to make choices that are in alignment with being a living sacrifice for Christ. Putting off the decision to truly live for Christ isn’t a luxury that you actually have. Your days on this earth have been numbered by the Almighty, but only He knows the number. I hope that when you reach the end of those days, you can honestly say that you did everything to live for Him. And that those around you will be changed forever, because you were a living sacrifice.