Last week I hoped that the article would get you thinking about sacrifice and your life as a follower of Jesus. I will not recap all that we covered, so you can revisit it here if you wish. An article I was recently reading on this theme of sacrifice spent some time critiquing our culture to expose why we struggle so much with this theme of Christian sacrifice.
Here are some of the reasons they came up with. I wonder what your reasons are?
The Need for SELF Gratification
When decision making actually is about helping me rather than serving Christ. With this in mind, I can justify my own self indulgence because “I deserve it”.
The Impact on MY Reputation
The world will of course see me as silly if I give up something that really costs me. They might think I am out of touch, crazy, prejudiced, narrow minded or a bit of a religious extremist. Of course, we should be more concerned with how God thinks of us than what those around us think.
The Pressure on MY Time
Our time always seems so limited and sacrifice takes time. I always have lots of things I want to do with my time and this impacts my opportunities for sacrifice. I wonder if I should be asking what does God want me to do with my time?
Christians have found it OK to use the family as an excuse to avoid any sort of sacrifice. Of course family is important but have we elevated family above serving Christ (by the way, the two are actually not mutually exclusive). What about serving Christ together as a family? At the other extreme there is a danger of sacrificing the family on the “altar of ministry”. What we really need to do is show regular sacrificial love to our families and this will give balance to those times when we show it to those outside the family.
The Experiences of Education, Sport and Music
As a parent I am all too aware of the pressure to ensure that my children get to pursue every “opportunity” that comes their way. I wonder if I struggle with sacrifice because it might cost my family one of these “life experiences”. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to sacrifice one of these “socially acceptable” experiences to be able to experience with our family, genuine Christian service.
My Standard of Living
What standard of living am I prepared to adopt in order to free up more of my financial assets so I can finance gospel ministry locally or through out the world?
The Church I am Part of
The church in which I grew up was one with many groups you could be part of. It was easy to sit and warm pews and have my needs met in a whole range of groups. This often means that people from further afield drove past places where they could serve in gospel ministry because they were looking for a place where their needs were met, rather than the church where they could serve the gospel best. I wonder if we look for a church that works for me and my family rather than a church I can best serve.
I reckon that the things I struggle with regarding sacrificial Christian living comes about because of either a wrong view of self, wrong priorities or a wrong understanding of what matters in view of eternity.
I must end by reminding us that the reason for our sacrifice must be centred on gospel ministry and building up the kingdom of God. The strength to sacrifice comes from God through His Spirit. It is impossible for me to achieve by myself.