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A Living Sacrifice

A Living Sacrifice

“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.” Romans 12:1

It’s so easy to “do church” in America and believe I’m following our Savior. And there is honestly no place I’d rather be than following Jesus Christ, with all my heart and soul. Yet if I’m being perfectly honest, my flesh so often encourages me to seek my own comfort, to protect what is mine, and to pursue those things which will be most beneficial to me.

And I can even find ways to use Scripture to justify myself.

hand raised in worship and woman singing

I read in Matthew 16:24, “Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

I used to read that verse as Jesus warning His disciples that they (I) will have to make some sacrifices to follow Him.

You know, like losing some friends who think I’m just way too into this whole Jesus thing. Or giving some of my hard-earned money to the local church to provide for the needs of the ministry. Or volunteering my precious time to love, teach and disciple teens — who also happen to be my favorite people.

But read again what Jesus said, and place yourself in the sandals of His listeners.

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

The men and women Jesus was speaking to regularly witnessed the dead and dying hanging on crosses all over the Roman empire. With a cruelty born of the most hardened conscience, the Romans had perfected the gruesome punishment of crucifixion to make it as torturous as possible.

Jesus was facing crucifixion, and He knew it when He spoke these challenging words. Soon, everyone would witness His death and see Him hanging on a cross — and His disciples would be filled with fear of the same end.

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

And so He warned His listeners ahead of time, lest they believe themselves to be His disciples when they really weren’t.

They knew exactly what He was asking of them. He was asking them to give up their lives to follow Him.

Here was their opportunity to walk away. Here was where they had to face down any doubts they may have been secretly harboring. Here was their moment of reckoning with their unbelief, their desire for self-preservation, their fear of laying down everything to follow in the footsteps of this man Jesus, who claimed to be the promised Messiah their forefathers had been waiting and looking for.

And as I wrestle with His words, I hear my Savior asking me, “Do you want to go away as well?” (John 6:67)

I encourage you to watch the following message from Francis Chan, who has wrestled with the same challenge. Let me know what you’re thinking.

Joyful in Hope,
Michelle


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