“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.”
ESV Romans 12:1
(Continuing in a series, today we’ll look at the third of the “Four Essentials for Finishing Well” that I picked up from Jerry Bridges at a fall conference.)
So far, we have looked at the need for daily communion with God and the need for a daily appropriation of the Gospel in our lives. Today, we’ll look at another “essential to finishing well;” a daily commitment to God as a living sacrifice.
Question: Do you flirt? Be honest now... I suppose some explanation and more detail is in order at this point. First, let’s define flirt: to pay amorous attention to someone without serious intentions or emotional commitment; play at love; to trifle or toy (definitions courtesy of www.yourdictionary.com). Secondly, the question is specifically referring to your relationship with Christ and His Church. So, the question is more accurately stated: Do you flirt with Church? In other words, do you act as though you love the Church, but secretly lack an emotional commitment to it?
A related question regarding your relationship to the Church is in regards to your level of participation. Do you contribute to Christ’s Church or are you committed to it? There is a real difference between mere contribution and commitment. An old breakfast tale is a good example. Think of sitting down to a breakfast of eggs (over medium with a little lace on the edges) bacon (fried just right) and all the fixins. (Stay with me now and don’t let your mind drift to Grandma’s or Cracker Barrel.) Now, looking at your breakfast, note that the chicken contributed the eggs but the hog committed his life for your bacon. Again, are you committed to Christ and His Church or do you simply contribute (flirt)?
In the Old Testament, we find a Mosaic sacrifice that was known as the “burnt offering.” Here, an animal was sacrificed and its flesh was totally consumed by the fire at the altar. You could say that those animals were committed in that ritual. And I think that Paul had the burnt offering in mind when he penned this verse in Romans. To be a living sacrifice is to be totally committed.
But why? Why be a living sacrifice to God? Because God, being rich in mercy, offered Christ as a sacrifice for your sins. Likewise, because of God’s mercy in salvation, He demands that we give all of ourselves to Him. Christians have not been called to a flirtatious relationship with God. Scripture demands commitment.
It sounds tough, but it’s actually liberating. You may recall that Mr. Bridges, now in his late seventies, was lecturing on “finishing well” in the Christian walk. On this thought, of being a living sacrifice, he made a comment that I won’t soon forget: “When we look at each day as a day as God’s servant, the noise of the day is less tiresome. The day is God’s to do with as He chooses.”