Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Living Sacrifice

Romans 12:1 "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship"

Living but sacrificed? Alive but dead? Oh Scripture, you are so notorious for pricking our minds and pushing us into contemplation on a phrase that is only two words! :)How I love that God desires for us to engage our minds in order for our spirits to be established in Him!

This idea of being a sacrifice while living has intrigued me and caused much stirring of my heart for several years now. How can we be a sacrifice and yet live? Does He not realize that in order to be a sacrifice, you must actually die?! How can we be alive and yet dead at the same time? Ah, I know, the death and sacrifice does not refer to our physical bodies, but to our spirits. Death to the "old self" and resurrection in Christ into our "new self": our justified, sanctified, glorified new identity that solely consists of CHRIST!

The other aspect of this concept that I think should be considered is the thought that as a living sacrifice, you continue to live, so the need for a sacrifice is continual! It is not a one-time event. It is necessary constantly. Every minute of every day. We are called to die to ourselves as our spiritual act of worship. In other words, the only thing we can do to prove our love and devotion to our maker is to lay ourselves down and be determined dead. This is the only way for us to be filled again with HIS life!

Now, I am queen of analogies, and my understanding stems from relating concepts to visual and experiential comparisons. Since I am a part of the medical field, specifically Oncology, so many things relate to cancer, treatment, and such. This idea of "living sacrifice" and dying to our sinful self in order to be alive in our justified self, mirrors a patient with a type of advanced cancer of the blood who is in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant.

Basically, the patient's entire being is infiltrated with cancer, seeing as it is a cancer of the blood. It has traveled through every organ, consumed every part of the body. The cancer represents sin. In a bone marrow transplant, a patient receives clean, pure, perfect blood cells to replace the cancer cells. However, in order for the transplant to take place, a patient must first be put through RIGOROUS chemotherapy treatments in order to completely anihilate the contaminated cells. The blood is wiped clean! The patient is left vulnerable and empty. They have nothing left in them. If it were not for other intense therapies, a patient left in this state would surely die. The process is miserable, and there is much suffering in the midst of it. However, just as the patient reaches this point of complete and utter vulnerability, the transplant takes place! They are filled with new, fresh, pure cells! (In the transplant unit, we call this their "New Birthday"--we sing and everything.. it's awesome!) Once they receive these new cells, they are determined in "remission". They are free of cancer. They are alive!

OK. So, the analogy is: We are filled with our sinfulness. Completely consumed with it! We NEED to be filled with the righteousness of Christ, but we can not be filled unless we are emptied first! The emptying process is a painful experience of death to the sin that has consumed us for so long. However, just as we are completely emptied, Christ comes and fills us to overflowing with His perfection! We get a "New Birthday"!!! Praise be to God! Oh, Lord, allow me to die! Empty me of all of my cancer cells and fill me with YOU!!

Now, I clearly recognize that none of us can fulfill this calling perfectly... We will continue to sin, thus reqcuiring daily sacrifice. This is why we need the covering and redemption of Christ to be the ultimate sacrifice for us. He is alive, and yet He died. He is, and always will be, THE Living Sacrifice, making it possible for failures like me to enter the Kingdom of Heaven and have the privilege to lay all of me down at HIS feet! Praise God for His perfect gift!!!

2 Corinthians 9:15 "Thanks be to God for His indescribable Gift!"

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