MASKED ROBBERS enter a bank. Guns zip out a stream of bullets, and a security guard is hit twice as he shields an innocent customer in the line of fire. The customer escapes unharmed, but the guard dies on the way to the hospital.
A young child trying to cross a flood-swollen river falls in the swift current. A passing motorist plunges into the river and pulls the victim to safety. Exhausted from the ordeal, she is swept away and drowned.
It’s “the ultimate sacrifice,” laying down your life to let another live. These stories resemble the most heroic rescue of all time-the one that spared you from death. Because no one is holy like God, we all face judgment -death and eternal separation from our Creator. But Jesus became a man and died the death that all sinners deserve so we could live.
Here’s the wild part. God turns around in Romans 12:1 and calls you to do the same thing: to sacrifice your body-with one key change. He’s looking for a living sacrifice. Sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it-one of those figures of speech that ties together contradictory terms, like “pretty ugly” or “virtual reality” or “long-sleeved T-shirt”? “Living” and “sacrifice” don’t seem to fit together. After all, “sacrifice” usually means something dies.
Someday you might get the chance to be a hero. But in the meantime, God invites you to sacrifice your body and live to tell about it -and to do it again and again. One way to sacrifice your body without dying is by serving God and others with your abilities, time, and resources. It might look like this:
helping an elderly neighbor by doing yard work
giving some of your money to a missions project
using your singing ability by serving on a worship team
spending a couple hours each week visiting patients at a nursing home
volunteering to help your parents clean the garage or attic
spending the summer on a short-term missions trip, etc.
Sound like a lot of work? Paul must have anticipated his readers might think that way. In the second part of Romans 12:1, he wrote, “Your reasonable service” When you think of what [God] has done for you, is this too much to ask? Your daily, living sacrifices are acts of worship to the one who sacrificed everything for you.
REFLECT: What changes do you want to make in order to offer your life as a living sacrifice?