Living Sacrifices

When we think of ”martyrs”, perhaps we remember the many Christians who have been, or who are being, put to death because of their faith, or perhaps we think of fundamentalists who kill others in the false hope of obtaining paradise through “a martyr’s death”. But the Bible speaks of a different sacrifice, a living sacrifice. This article is an edited version of a recent talk given to students who attended A Kosher Encounter, this year’s CWI Summer School.
“So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.” (1 Thessalonians 2:8)

Often I am invited to share in a Shabbat meal or a Passover celebration with some Jewish friends. It is always a great privilege to attend such events as it makes me feel that my friends have adopted me into their family. Because of this, I am sometimes temped to think that if I don’t share the gospel with them, I will be happy and they will be happy! But the reality is that, because of God’s unchanging Word, I have to share the gospel with them, I have to be faithful to the Word. We cannot simply “love people to God”, we have to preach Christ crucified, “to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” This is the ultimate way of showing love to Jewish people.

But, as the apostle Paul has written, we need to share not only the gospel of Christ but our lives as well. Earlier this year I was speaking in Hong Kong and I looked up 1 Thessalonians 2:8 in my Chinese Bible. What I saw challenged me because the Chinese translation says, “We loved you so much that we were delighted not only to share with you the gospel of God but also to become martyrs for you …” [my emphasis]. I thought, I am ready to share my life with my Jewish friends but I’m not sure if I am ready to become a martyr! However, I came to see that in sharing our lives we are called to be martyrs, not necessarily in the sense of dying physically for others, but in dying to self and being living sacrifices. I realised that by God’s grace I needed to leave my comfort zone and share my life with my Jewish friends, to become a servant for the sake of Christ. Paul wrote: ”For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more” (1 Corinthians 9:19).

If we want to make a difference in this world, we have constantly to remind ourselves what it means to be followers of Christ. We need to make ourselves servants, serving the people around us. It is hard going and cross-cultural evangelism is always challenging. Therefore, we need to know our God, we need to know his Word and we need to know what we believe – it has been said that people claim to be willing to die for God but are not willing to think for God! Furthermore, we must recognise that Christian ministry involves teamwork. You and I do not make a difference, we make a difference.

Romans 12:1,2: “… present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

Dare to be different!
This article first appeared in the September 2007 edition of the Herald

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