Saturday, March 9, 2013
What is sacrifice and how do we apply it in our lives? I was just asked this the other day and it really got me to thinking about how we lead without leaving those inside are communities hungry for unconditional love and mercy. This is a question I have been posing to my children a lot lately, especially during those times we feel in need ourselves. Why am I asking my children to give up and sacrifice anything now in the middle of our own struggle, well what better a time as this to be able to genuinely learn to serve and sacrifice, without anything in return, knowing it’s coming from a place of love and kindness rather than of duty and responsibility? So many times we tend to talk about giving up this or that, making grand plans, publicly stating our good intentions, yet fail after the first attempt? We really do want to make a difference, but how long does it truly last once we have to work at it?
It’s easier to work at something we see paying off in our own lives, losing weight, getting in shape, a bigger house, new shoes, a faster car, more friends, parties, positions of spotlight and the affection of those we want to be recognized by. These are the things we prize, yet what about the lives of those the world or even the church wrapped up in her programs has forgotten? Who will be Jesus to those needing His unyielding compassion and mercy? As we approach Easter, I have to ask a haunting question screaming out from inside my heart, as Christians, how we can stop trying to act like Christians and just simply be one? How do we stop getting caught up in emotional lip service and actually serve? We have so many resources at our fingertips yet we change nothing, because if it doesn’t involve shining a light on how we contribute, how our feelings are hurt or uplifted, we just keep the needs or the contributions of others hidden. Its equivalent to allowing our fire to burn out and hiding under a bush just like the childhood songs says. Why do we have to stand out or be recognized to do what’s right?
What about letting our lights truly shine because His light is in us and not just by the money we put in the bucket, the public fasting we do every twelve months or the spiritual campaigns we profess throughout the year? How about giving up our own comforts not just on a one time mission trip, but what about right in your own back yard, the neighbor out of work, the church member struggling to start over, a friend in the hospital or the child who’s lost a parent to cancer? My family and I have been all of those people, and because of our own struggle and at times being left to fend for ourselves, we have learned never to leave anyone alone on the road, beaten, bruised and thirsty. So many folks just need to know they have not been forgotten. In our home, even as we struggle ourselves, we are trying to teach our children to give everything, and not to just go through the mere motions of service. Our desire is to see our boys become men who give everything, take every hard road if that is what it takes to take up the passionate side of Christ’s love.
Why do we ignore our Father’s call to love, to sacrifice and to serve? I am saddened to say so many times I see an opportunity slip away because we as the body of Christ can’t leave behind our insecurities, and give Him the reigns instead of trying to control how He uses us. We seem to tell Him more often than not how He can work in our lives, and end up with regrets we can’t shake. Why is it letting His love, His sacrifice become our burning desire, and an all-consuming fire in our hearts is so hard to accept? In His death He saved us, took our sins and forgave them, never to remember them, so how are we being this kind of example to our children of God’s ultimate love and sacrifice for us? We have all fallen and we all have living testimonies but how often are we really living them out loud, instead of just talking them up loudly for others to hear? How do the lost truly get found, not by anything we do our own or even in His name, I can tell you that much. Lives are truly found and changed, not by what we expose and profess as His will but instead it’s by the sacrifices we are willing to make when no one is looking.
It is beyond my comprehension the infinite love Christ has for me, but unless I am willing to lay something down for someone else His love cannot bring fruit in my own life. If I am not offering compassion and being the hands of Jesus to others how am I anything like the Good Samaritan Jesus spoke of in the parable? It’s just that simple. We are called as a body to be the hands and feet of the One who laid down His life for us first. His life, laid down for you and me should remind us what life is really all about, not how tall we are above the crowd, or how many chairs we can fill at our next event. If we are truly saved by grace then we need to begin showing compassion again, not sideways, round-a-bout care and concern, giving our leftovers. Who cares about what the new special party this week or the gotta have trending piece of fashion everyone is wearing, no, our eyes need to be focused on the battle of the heart, not how we are seen through the world’s eyes! Sure we talk big, and we give those willing to talk the tallk with us the prized seat at our tables, but when do we actually offer those same seats to the folks who are tirelessly working, humbly giving up their own desires to make sure the needs we talk about meeting are truly met? We do not need to be the head, nor do we need to be the one who shines simply for the benefit of ourselves. No, real sacrifice is about selfless acts of kindness, surrendering, giving up our desires, for someone else’s good.
Maybe those of us celebrating Easter and His resurrection this year, myself included, need to give the gift our of time, and be willing to step outside our comfort zone in order to be the hands and feet of the One we proclaim to serve. If nothing can separate us, why are we so consumed with every man for himself as we journey to the other side of the river? Where has our compassion as children of God gone? What if He had been too busy to break bread with the poor or those in need of compassion? We desperately need to remember what grace is and how to apply it not only in our lives but to those in need of kindness. I am not going to say it’s not difficult because there is nothing easy about self- sacrifice, giving up my day or that extra cash to grab coffee with the girls in order to give my time away and invest in someone else who needs me to listen. I may never receive a thank you or my name may never come up when the praise is passed around but isn’t that the point of sacrifice?
This is exactly the lesson I pray our boys take away with them as they enter the world. I want both of them to let Him do the talking in their lives instead of talking for Him. I don’t want our boys to become good men with good intentions allowing their good deeds to be preceded by pride in a job well done. Many times those out in the trenches get forgotten, only coming to mind when a need surfaces. Sure, we all know we need to stop and offer a hand, or sit down and simply ask how we can help instead of shaking our heads up and own while tuning our ears off, but that is exactly the trap we tend to fall into while we rush around doing good deeds. Somehow as the body of Christ we have forgotten, closing our doors, avoiding the parts of our own family with dirt or bruises because they don’t fit our idea of trendy. Other times, we tend to pass them up because we are just overwhelmed by the idea of diving in. Talents are many times over looked because those in the trenches are not as polished, washed up or blend in with the crowd. How long do we leave the injured part of our body behind? Do we just forget how Jesus loved the least of us, how He sat and broke bread with the tax collector and the prostitute? We tend to forget our hearts were once just as bruised and battered so today I am challenging those who are willing, to stop covering up, backing up out of our uncomfortable zones and begin living true sacrifice out loud. If we are going to lead then we must do so by example, and not become stagnant in our testimonies of God’s love, grace and mercy. We are humbly made, so let’s begin humbly giving our selves away.