Archives For sacrifice

There’s a persistent misconception propagated by a certain segment of the church that coming to Christ will make our lives somehow better. This is a nice sentiment, and certainly a prima facie case can be made for its veracity.

There’s just one small problem:

It’s not true.

Jesus Himself said “In this world you shall have tribulation.” In other words, trouble. He promised us trouble. Not only this, but He also counsels us to “take up your cross, and follow me.” That doesn’t sound like much fun.

Elsewhere, we are told to “consider the cost,” “deny yourself,” and that we will be hated.

The fact is, Jesus never promised a best life now, but rather lives full of trouble, where we are often at odds with the world… and with ourselves. “The Spirit lusteth against the flesh, and the flesh against the Spirit.” Point is: being a Christian ain’t easy. In fact, it’s harder to believe than not to. It would be far easier to go along, to stop swimming against the stream–to surrender to the voices and vices clamoring for our attention.

But who else has the words of life?

To whom else may we turn?

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. There’s no other. The world screams that this is too exclusive, and something in us wants to whisper consent: it is too exclusive–there’s got to be another way.

There isn’t.

The late, great Chesterton said it best [regarding Christianity], “God and man made it, and it is making me.” And that is our problem: we don’t want to be made, or re-made. We’re just fine thank-you very much. Which proves how not fine we are.

And how much, loath we are to admit it, just how much we need Jesus. Which is just where He confronts us: right in that place of need. But we don’t want to need. We’re strong, independent… and full of pride.

Just what, I wonder, is easy about confronting the pride inside? Yet this is what Christ requires: this unflinching look within. It’s… painful to say the least. And pain is the one thing we instinctually withdraw from–because that instinct counsels self-preservation. Which is what Jesus says will kill us: “He that saves his life shall lose it, but he that loses his life for My sake and the Gospel shall find it.”

We, as Jesus did for us, must give up that one thing which is most precious to us: our one and only life.”

And it hurts.

And it frequently does not make this life better. Because Jesus didn’t die to make this life better, but rather to give us a new life–one filled with live, yes. But one marked with sacrifice, denial, pain.

Much like His was.

Have you consider the cost?

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Lent is a season of reflection, traditionally a time of giving up things in order to draw closer to the Lord. I have no problem with this. There are things we all could, and should, give up. How much time, for instance, do we here in America spend watching televisions versus in Bible study and prayer? What about social media–Twitter, Facebook, and other social games (such as Words With Friends).

It certainly would not hurt to spend less time doing those things, or to go without them, during Lent. How much of a sacrifice, however, is giving up Facebook for Lent? In our culture of entitlement, I would say not much at all. It is the sacrifice of the least common denominator, and something which is rather convenient to do.

Folks, it is not a hardship to give up Facebook, or Twitter, during this season. Especially if one announces one’s intentions via social media. That does not bespeak of the humility associated with the Lenten season, and really only serves to self-aggrandize:

“Look at me! I’m giving up social media for Lent. See you in forty days.” (Don’t believe me? Search Twitter. You will see. Or check this article on Gizmodo).

Which is why I’m not giving up social media, blogging, or an online presence during Lent. I am not interested in drawing attention to myself by highlighting my humility (which is really just pride, cleverly disguised). What I am giving up, if I give up anything at all, is between me and my Lord.

If you are giving something up, making a sacrifice of some kind, please don’t tell anyone. Just do it. Let it be between you and Jesus. He already knows all of your idols, inordinate affections, where you spend your time, energy, and attention. My rule is simple: if we are give anything up, it should be something near and dear to us.

Not something outside of us. Because anything outside is merely a symptom of an inner condition. A sacrifice would not necessarily be giving up social media, television, online gaming, etc., but rather laying down our rights, our pride, our arrogance, and our vanity. It is not the thing, but rather the why behind the thing that matters. It is motivation that is key.

And in motivation, the heart is central.

My best advice? Get in a place where you can be quiet before Jesus, and ask Him what–if anything–He wants you to give up this Lenten season. I guarantee the answer will surprise you.

Jesus is like that.

Today is Memorial Day in the United States. It is a day set aside to remember those who paid the ultimate price in securing the freedoms we all too often take for granted in America. While I’ve not had the privilege of serving in the military, nor have I personally known anyone who has given their life, I nevertheless want to say:

Thanks

Thank-you to all the former, and active duty personnel, who have given, and are giving, the best years of their lives to secure the freedoms I enjoy.

Thank-you for giving up so much time with your children and families so I can safely enjoy time with mine. It is not a privilege I take lightly.

Thank-you to:

My uncle, Kelly Graham, who served in the Navy.

My cousin, Daryn Callahan, who served in the Army.

I know we–I–don’t say it enough:

Thank-you!

The Walking Dead may not be your thing–I get that. But unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that one of the burning questions of the series was answered this past Sunday night:

The on again, off again, on again bromance between Rick and Shane has
reached a definitive end (though, in the interests of maintaining journalistic integrity, it was most decidedly on again–for a few moments, anyway).

That’s right, the question of will they, or won’t they, (kill each other) has been answered:

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'The Equal Rights Amendment' photo (c) 2008, dbking - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

In Western society, we are altogether too familiar with the words of Ephesians 5:22-24 (ESV), and how this passage has been abused, which says:

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”

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