Living Sacrifice

May 4, 2008

Kay preachesLast Sunday, Kay took her first crack at preaching. Or I should say, her first crack at preaching in the United States, and in English. This was also the first time she’s had a predetermined topic assigned to her: “Living Sacrifice” in a series on paradox. I’m going to blog most of her notes. (Make sure you get to the punch line towards the bottom of what is our job, what is not our job, and what is God’s job!)

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice — the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:1-2

What is a sacrifice? Dictionary definition: The surrender or destruction of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim.

Action step: Discuss what kind of sacrifices have you made in your life.

So what’s with this “living sacrifice”?

Living — Sacrifice
Has control — Has no control
Has rights — Has no rights
Is alive — Is used up

So a regular sacrifice gets used up, but a living sacrifice doesn’t. That means a living sacrifice is not a one-shot deal like other sacrifices. The sacrifice is made again and again and again.

To be a good sacrifice, we need to:

Give up my control
Give up my desires and dreams
Give up my rights (my right to revenge, justice, happiness)
Give up my self-sufficiency (I can do it)

And because we are called to be a living sacrifice, we have to do this again and again and again.

So why would any sane person want to become a sacrifice? Well, the question that is always asked about a sacrifice is, “Is it worth it?” What do you get in return?

To answer that, let’s look at the verse again:

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice — the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:1-2

“And so” refers to what came before this verse.

Some promises God offers:
Faithfulness (Romans 3:3-4)
Peace (Romans 5:1)
Freedom from the law (Romans 8:1-2)

Now it’s important to understand what is our job as a living sacrifice and what is not.

Our job is:
Give up my control
Give up my desires and dreams
Give up my rights
Give up my self-sufficiency

Our job is NOT:
Changing my thoughts
Transforming myself
Figuring out God’s will

Problems come when we don’t do what is our job, or try to do what isn’t our job.

So what’s the payback?

This is what God promises:
I will transform you into a new person
I will change the way you think
I will teach you my will
My will is good and pleasing

So what does a LIVING sacrifice look like?

Most people know someone who gives themselves away to others. My Mom is a person like that. My Dad was in a car accident 1-1/2 years ago. Since then he could no longer walk well or eat well or bathe well. My Mom would start her day at 5:30 in the morning getting him dressed, feeding him, cleaning him and dealing with all of his doctors. My mother is 78 years old and my Dad is 6 feet tall. But she would have to help him get in and out of his wheelchair or the car. Most days she would go to bed absolutely exhausted hoping she would get to sleep all night. But If Dad needed anything she would be there to help night or day. The next morning she would get up and do it all over again. She is an accomplished pianist that has performed professionally. But for the last couple of months she has had to set her music aside again and again. That’s what a living sacrifice looks like.

The only person that can decide if a sacrifice is worth it is the person that is making that sacrifice.

My Dad died on Wednesday morning. And I asked Mom, “Was it worth it all, Mom?” And she said, “I told him I love him over and over again. And he appreciated everything I did for him. Yes, it was worth it.” To my mother that simple appreciation from her life-mate made this a good sacrifice. Only she could make that call.

So ask yourself: Is it worth it? Is becoming a new person with a new way to think and peace inside of you worth giving up my control? If you will let go, God will be faithful. If you will let go, God will give you peace. If you let go, God will give you freedom and make you into a new person. Let go and give God’s promises a try.

Action step: Have people write on a piece of paper what they need to let go of or sacrifice to God. Take it out to the fire pit and burn it. Maybe get prayer if they want.

Jon Reid

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As an American missionary kid who grew up in Japan, I'm a child of two cultures, while not fully belonging to either. This gives me a sightly different view of the world.

4 responses to Living Sacrifice

  1. This is awesome Jon… and especially Kay! I am in the middle of a situation at work that is out of my control, but that I want to have control over that I think I need to just let go of. Thanks so much for posting this.

  2. Randall, I’ll pass that on to Kay.

  3. Wow! Nice sermon! My favorite part is the section on “Our Job Is” vs. “Our Job Is Not” – Question: What did Kay say about why/how those items she listed under the latter category are not our responsibility?

  4. Yellow,
    Yeah, I thought she nailed something powerful there! She just got that from the Romans passage — read it again and see what you think.