A thought’s been marinating in my mind lately, the idea of a Christianity apart from sacrifice.
We say we love people, but we aren’t always willing to set aside our desires for them. How great, then, is our love if we love our comfort & security more?
To “outsiders” – those who don’t believe as we do – what shows them our love? Our great theology? How powerful our worship services are? How righteously we live?
Or is it how we treat them & each other, and even moreso, what we’re willing to give up for their good?
Our Christian culture has become largely devoid of sacrifice. We’ve watered our faith down to theological debates on online forums and funny t-shirts (while calling ourselves “brave” & “heroic”). Yet this smacks more of Cheap Christianity – Jesus followers unwilling to lay down our lives for another (or only on our terms). I am just as guilty of this as anyone.
Yet the real Jesus touched & healed people frequently, encouraged people to draw near to His Father, and eventually died in order to make this possible.
Do I do even part of that? Do I care enough to sacrifice, to surrender my rights for the sake of another? Have I been willing to “turn the other cheek” to show them Christ’s character & heart for them, or am I always seeking vindication?
Am I willing to give money or the shirt off my back (so-to-speak) to help someone in need? Do I let others go first in line? Do I give up my freedoms when they cause another to stumble?
Every powerful movie has a hero: Captain America, Braveheart, Thor, Superman. I LOVE these movies (don’t we all?) because they’re so inspiring. And touching. And gripping.
But what makes these characters heroes? Is it their great speeches… or the way they relentlessly give of themselves, over & over again, for the sake of others?
Hmm, yea. These movies are the Gospel story repackaged for the big screen. No wonder we’re so captivated by their tales.
Unwittingly, we are drawn to these “saviors”: Heroes fighting for the betterment of others, to their own detriment. We admire & respect them because they are laying it all on the line for other people.
These heroes (& people like them) sacrifice every day, which is more of a testament to their beliefs than anything they could ever say they believe.
Our world’s true heroes are out there giving of themselves right now, not duking it out on the web with non-believers – at best a big short-term win, but epic long-term loss. As an old professor of mine once said, You’ll never argue an atheist into heaven - so I suggest we stop trying.
I fear my faith is cheaper than I realize because I find myself MUCH more on the side of the web warriors than the everyday servants… and that has got to change.
I don’t want a cheap religion devoid of the Man I’m supposed to be following. I want an authentic relationship with Him that spills over into other people’s lives, through my everyday living (& yes, even sacrifice).
These gestures need not be grandiose to be great – in fact, most aren’t. But practicing “you before me” regularly will chisel more of God’s heart in my life than any One Year Bible plan or seminary ever could.
More importantly, my love through everyday sacrifice will show outsiders how real His love is for them.
“I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are My disciples.” ~Jesus (John 13)
“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” ~John 15