In a world of instant gratification and impatience, it may be tough to grasp the idea of our entire lives as “A Living Sacrifice.” We want everything the world has to offer and we want it NOW. However, two thousand years ago, the apostle Paul taught us a different way. Instead of living for the short term “rewards” of this world, he taught us to change the way we think, so we could live even better for God in the long term. This edition of The Path, “Quick Church” is based on the two different translations of the same classic bible verses, below. (We encourage studying different bible translations for greater understanding. This app allows you to examine the two, side-by-side.)
“A Living and Holy Sacrifice” (Romans 12:1-2, New Living Translation)
1 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. 2 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.
From “The Message” Translation: (a more contemporary language)
1 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. 2 Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. He will change you from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
A Living Sacrifice – Context
I’ve always thought that there’s enough pain and suffering in the world and I’ve always wanted to be my best. So, getting God’s help with both sounds pretty good to me! Now, let’s provide a little more context for Paul’s message. We know from the old testament that God had specific, detailed instructions for offering appropriate sacrifices to him in ancient times. (Leviticus 1-7) There were different types of sacrifices for different times. However, the main one, was to make up for your sins by offering a perfect livestock animal. I can’t imagine the whole scene back then:
Traveling to the tabernacle, leading your flawless animal that you chose from your own flock
Watching the animal struggle as you bring it to the altar
Preparing it, and then killing it
Seeing the blood, possibly getting some on your clothing – and then burning the animal in the fire
And what about the smell?
Imagine the emotional and spiritual impact it would have on you, knowing that it should have been you, instead. You realize now, that it was YOUR sin that made this sacrifice necessary. You offered the animal as YOUR substitute. And the rule was, it had to be your best animal – one without defect or blemish. It would be an animal that probably could have been bred to continue producing more quality animals and therefore, boosting your livelihood. You repeated this whole scene on every trip to “church.” Would you think twice about sinning again, after all this? I’m sure I would!
Jesus was our perfect, unblemished sacrifice and he offered himself as a subtitute for us. He was tortured, ridiculed and executed – for US. He replaced this regular system of sacrificing animals. Therefore, Paul is teaching us to see the connection. Since we don’t have to offer regular animal sacrifices anymore, we should now be “a living sacrifice” or “offering,” back to God. We shouldn’t live for some short term gain or sin by conforming with the world. Instead, we should stand out and let God bring out the best in us, for the longer term.
To walk with and live for God, is to live on an entirely different level. It will feel different. It may take some getting used to. However, I know from personal experience, that he will definitely bring out the best in you! He will take you places you never dreamed of. He’ll provide more peace and understanding than you ever thought possible!
The way we live our lives for God is our sacrifice or offering to him; our prayer. Listen to the hauntingly beautiful voice of Alison Kraus, singing “Living Prayer,” for more inspiration.
Can you think of any ways you allow yourself to conform to the ways of this world?
Where do you cut corners or experience worry, fear, guilt, shame or suffering?
Pray for God to speak to you about this and unload these burdens.
Consider your health – physically, emotionally, relationally and spiritually.
Think about your work life, your life purpose and if or how you’re serving others.
Start documenting a new gameplan that will help you turn the corner and transform your life. How can you be a living sacrifice?
Lord, you are infinite and awesome! You gave us this amazing life and this amazing world to live in, but we humans just keep messing it up. I pray that we can use the changing seasons now to be some inspiration to change our lives. I pray that we can avoid conforming to the ways of others and aim higher to be a living sacrifice for you. Let our lives become a living offering – one that you find pleasing. Let us be a living prayer that can be there for someone else’s pain and suffering. From the song, Lord: “Take our lives and let them be a living prayer, my God, to thee.” Let us be willing. Let us not be fooled by temptations. Have your way with us. Bring out the best in us. Amen!
May God bless you!
Thank you for attending The Path “Quick Church” in written form. The Path is our church “brand name,” connected with our recovery ministry, “Mission Addiction.” Let us know what you think of this message. What spoke to you the most? Feel free to like, comment, and share. Or contact us to ask questions, go into more detail or work more on your faith walk together! Everyone is welcome at our events, listed on our Facebook events or Eventbrite page. You can attend online or in-person. The same goes for our MAP For Healing and Recovery aftercare and discipleship program.