Posted by: John Hall | November 14, 2008

Sacrifice to Shift

One of the key ingredients in the Kingdom of God is sacrificial love.  One notable characteristic of our culture has been to only sacrifice for oneself.  Sacrifice the chocolate to lose weight, sacrifice the coffee to stop shaking, sacrifice your time to feel good.  Things are changing in some respects as social justice takes on a high profile in society.  (We all love fads)  But Christians are called to walk this path of sacrifice in a much deeper way.  What happens to sacrifice when the cost is too high?  Only people with nothing to lose and who have been given everything can sacrifice in a way that brings lasting change.  But is the church walking like this?

 

Jesus said we would only have life if we lost our lives (Mathew 10:39), and Paul says to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1).  This sacrifice isn’t just so that we can live a better life, feel good, or get a pat on the back from our heavenly Papa but the church has been wooed to this worldly self-oriented perspective. In contrast we repeatedly see in the New Testament that the sacrifices we make are to be made like a kind of covert worship to God, and it’s in this environment of worship that Christ builds his church, because it’s in this spirit that he came (John 4:34-38).  If we follow this concept of worship and sacrifice a little further it’s not hard to see that we arrive at the first and greatest command which is to ‘love God with all our heart, soul and strength’.  We only have something worthy to worship God with if we have received the life of Christ in us. 

 

So, how does this relate to shifting from a worldly paradigm to a Kingdom paradigm of church?  Well I would suggest that the power of God to transform our world and churches rests in our understanding of sacrifice, first Christ’s and then ours.  Christ’s sacrifice overcame hell and death once and for all and the power of this victory is available to us to make Christ known throughout the earth. These two concepts need to be linked because we need to see that Christ’s death and resurrection wasn’t for our benefit, but because of his love.   It helps to see how this victory power came to be ours, and that’s through the sacrificial love of a humble man.  Jesus left heaven emptied himself and became a man and the inverse is true for us.  We empty ourselves of earth (again through grace and the cross) and gain heaven (Christ in us) enabling us to engage the world with sacrificial love, love that doesn’t look out for it’s own gain, but which is only interested in bringing glory to the one who gave us life.  

 

 The power of the cross is only realized in the mission of the cross which is God reconciling man with himself. 

 

(For some profound perspective on Sacrifice see Nov 13 – Utmost for Highest – Oswald Chambers)

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