Living Sacrifices


 

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. Romans 12:1 NKJV

 

It’s a biological fact that living beings, whether humans, animals or insects, have to reproduce in order to continue to thrive as a species. But, reproduction alone is insufficient because if living things fail to provide adequate care for their young the newborn cannot survive. If living things don’t feel the need to care for and protect their young then eventually the young will die.

 

The incubation period for penguins is during the polar winter. Females lay only one egg and then leave the nest and go back to the sea leaving the male to care for the egg. During the four month incubation period, the male penguin has to resist violent polar storms at times, the wind speeds can reach over 75 mph. Making such a great sacrifice for four full months, the male loses over half its body weight because it can’t go hunting. After four moths the female returns with food for the new hatchling.

 

The Black Lace Weaver spider sacrifices herself to feed her cannibalistic young. The young spiderlings first feed on the unhatched eggs and then turn on their mother and devour her. She could flee the nest and avoid certain death, but she stays and encourages her young to feed on her body so they can have the nutrients they need to survive out in the harsh world.

 

One of my favorite scenes from the Batman movies is the interrogation scene when Batman, played by Christen Bale is left alone in the interrogation room with The Joker, played by Heath Ledger. The Joker paints a pretty bleak picture of human nature, but it’s basically spot on.

 

 

The world hates Christians and everything we stand for. And Jesus told his disciples that it would. Jesus didn’t paint a rosy portrait of the Christian life, not at all. He said that He was sending them out like sheep among the wolves. But, He didn’t send them anywhere without teaching them everything they needed to know first. He made sure that they were fully equipped for the conditions they would be facing. His disciples didn’t go out into the world blind.

 

Why is it that we as Christians don’t feel the need to care for and nurture our young. I’m not talking about our children, but our newborn brothers and sisters. We go all out to lead people to Christ and once they accept him and begin their new life we move on to other things. We don’t stick around to teach them how to survive in the cold, harsh world. And we wonder why, at the first sign of trouble so many Christians turn tail and run. At the first hint of persecution they fold up like a cardboard box. It’s because they haven’t been properly trained. They haven’t been nurtured and fed like any newborn should be.

 

You wouldn’t just put your 1 month old child out in the street and expect him to survive on his own, right? Of course not, that would be ludicrous.  You wouldn’t do that if he was 15 years old. We want to make sure that our children know how to take care of themselves out in the world before we let them go and even then we still worry about them. Yet, we expend a lot of time and energy leading people to the Lord and then we just send them out into the world to face the wolves alone. We don’t bother to supply them with even the most basic of necessities for survival. What’s wrong with this picture?

 

Since men became enemies to God, they have been very ready to be enemies one to another. And those that embrace Christianity, must expect to meet with enemies in a world whose smiles seldom agree with Christ’s.

 

“Present your bodies as a living sacrifice to God.” This is a powerful appeal. We receive from the Lord every day the fruits of his mercy. Let us present ourselves; all we are, all we have, all we can do to the service of our Lord. It is acceptable to God: a reasonable service, which we are able and ready to give a reason for, and which we understand and let us teach our newborn brothers and sisters to do the same.

 

Conversion and sanctification are the renewing of the mind; a change, not of the substance, but of the qualities of the soul. The progress of sanctification, dying to sin more and more, and living to righteousness more and more, is the carrying on this renewing work, till it is perfected in glory. Sanctification is not an overnight thing. It happens slowly over time as we daily renew our minds and submit ourselves to God.

 

The great enemy to this renewal is conformity to this world. Take heed of forming plans for happiness, as though if it lies in the things of this world, which soon pass away. Do not fall in with the customs of those who walk in the lusts of the flesh, and mind earthly things. The work of the Holy Spirit first begins in the understanding, and is carried on to the will, affections, and conversation, till there is a change of the whole man into the likeness of God, in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness. Thus, to be godly, is to give up ourselves to God.

 

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. Mathew 28:18-20 NKJV

 

This is where the modern church is failing. Not only are we not going out and making disciples in the world, we also aren’t nurturing the ones we do make. And we wonder why the church isn’t growing. We grieve because so many churches are closing their doors. We cry over our children turning away from Christianity and embracing other religions or none at all. We want to see the church grow and flourish, but we aren’t willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen.

 

The majority of churches today seem to be much more concerned with building new buildings and gaining new members than they are with making disciples. Churches spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on special projects and have no money left over for outreach ministries into the communities. I know churches right now, in my community that are so deep in debt from building projects they can’t even afford things that they need in the church, let alone for community outreach.

 

Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me. Mathew 25:34-40 NKJV

 

Jesus built the church to be a beacon for community outreach. He built the church to be his hands and feet in the world, but he church has become too much like the world. She has lost her power and influence. There are plenty of lost people out there that would gladly come to Jesus if they could only see his church acting and living like him. But, sadly all they see is the church becoming more and more like the world. Until this changes and the church gets back to the basics and starts following Christ again, we will continue on the same path of destruction.

 

 

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