Monday, April 8, 2013

Don't Sacrifice, Just Love

I've recently read two books - both by Kyle Idleman: Gods at War, Defeating the Idols that Battle for Your Heart and Not a Fan, Becoming a Completely Devoted Follower of Jesus. They are both excellent books and I highly recommend both of them. However, it is the second that has been rolling around in my mind for the last couple of weeks. The author tells us that many people who think themselves followers of Christ are really mere fans of the Son of God. He shares that in Matthew 7, Jesus himself says that not everyone who calls themselves followers will be welcomed into the Kingdom of Heaven, but will be turned away even though they preached repentance and performed miracles in Jesus' name. Idleman explains that it is not the things a person does, but whether he has a relationship with God that defines them as follower or fan. The author really challenges today's understanding of what it is to be follower of Christ.
As I put a magnifying glass to my own faith, one part of his book had me stopped in my tracks. He said that a follower sacrifices for Christ, while a fan won't - not really anyway. I began to look at my life and wonder if I sacrifice for the love of Jesus or am I really just a person who knows the right things to say and do to fool myself and everyone else. I grew concerned because I couldn't think of an example of sacrifice for Christ's sake in my life. Then the Spirit gave me a thought - I know I loved my son more than myself and that I had a real relationship with him. So I asked myself, “What did sacrifice look like in my life for the sake of my son?” Again I found it difficult to think of anything and here's why: because I loved my son so much that I didn't mind sacrificing for him. I went without so he could have and that didn't bother me because I loved him. I stepped outside of my comfort zone often, put aside my comfort and fears for him because I loved him. Like any parent, I would have given up my life for him if possible and I gave him my life every day he was alive. He was my first thought of the day and the last before I went to bed. Sacrifice doesn't mean doing something you hate or doing something because you should. You do it without objection because you love. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t sometimes a hard thing to do – just that love overrides selfish instinct.
That's why I had such a difficult time finding examples of sacrifice for Jesus in my life - because I was looking for times when I knew I was giving something up or when I did something because it was the right thing to do when I should have been looking for the gifts of love I give Jesus every day. I mistakenly thought sacrifice was supposed to feel like I was losing out on something but really, it's offering of my heart. I couldn't see sacrifice in my life because I've been so blessed in my love for Christ - so much more than the total of anything I ever "gave up" that I couldn't see it as sacrificial. What I leaned in this examination of my faith is to not worry about sacrifice. The sacrifice takes care of itself if you just love Jesus – love wholly, love daily, and love more.

1 comment:

Audrey said...

This message spoke to me Maureen. Sacrifice can be a very difficult concept to understand. But, when you look at it the way you explain it, it all makes sense!