Saturday, January 26, 2013

What is Sacrifice?

"If there's no sacrifice involved, if you're not at least a little uncomfortable, there there is a good chance that you aren't carrying a cross."- Not a Fan, Kyle Idleman

Right now I'm sitting in my bed.  The door is shut and the heater is full blast because it is cold outside.  I've got a Diet Coke on my table, not just one Bible but two laying next to me (I read out of my King James for Bible studies, and read my Chronological one each morning...  or most mornings).  I've also got a Kindle laying by my side with a whole assortment of books on it to choose from.

I've not gone hungry much lately.  Most days, I get in my car, with less than 100,000 miles on it (though really dirty...), and drive a short drive to town, where I go to work at a community college.  I know most people there... and even if I don't know the students, it's a small town, so I generally smile at them and speak as we walk across campus. 

Most nights, I'm in a gym cheering on a group of pretty awesome girls.  At halftime, I read. The other nights, I fight with Caleb about doing homework and fight with myself about getting on the treadmill and fight with Wallace... just because. 

Where is the sacrifice?  As I read this chapter in Not a Fan, a kind of sick feeling crept into my stomach.  It's all about taking up your cross and denying yourself, following Him... Jesus... into death. Death of self. Death of pride.  Death... sacrifice. And to be honest, that's not something I'm good at. It's not something any of us is good at.  We were meant for self-preservation.  I teach it a lot, that fight or flight syndrome, where when we are threatened we kick into survival mode. 

Idleman points out that the death Christ speaks of is a daily decision, and it is intentional.  It must be if we are to go against human nature, and stop protecting ourselves.  Intentionality... commitment. Daily.

When I compare my comfortable life here in poverty-stricken Eastern Kentucky, to those in other parts of the world, there is no sacrifice.  I think of Katie in Uganda.  I've yet to read her book, but she's a young woman who up and moved to Uganda and adopted a bunch of orphans... who were essentially her age, or even older.  She sacrificed.  I think of others who have gone on mission trips... sacrificing their time and comfort to serve others.  I think of our soldiers overseas... fighting a battle that perhaps isn't even ours, because they believe in the land of the free and home of the brave.  Now that's sacrifice. 

And how do I compare to that? 

As I sat and pondered that question, the question of whether I've ever been uncomfortable, I wrote in the margin.  Maybe you need this, too. "What does this look like in our comfortable world? Perhaps it is being uncomfortable in relationships- giving in when we don't want to. In our selfish society, this may be the most difficult thing to do... to put others first." Sometimes, sacrifice is seen in letting others be right.  That's uncomfortable, right? In giving into the preference of others... when we know it is not something we want to do. 

In not complaining when someone comes in and turns on the TV and starts playing games when you are trying to process your quiet time.  In turning the other cheek and forgiving. 

The next question that is posed is about daily actions to take up your cross.  And I thought... what will this look like in my life? In a day where I'll spend most of the time on a bus or in a gym, watching ballgames.  My answer to this? Be Christ.  Radiate Christ.  Love those I come in contact with. Look for ways to make them smile or to encourage them.  Show them Christ's love.  It may not be a sacrifice today, but some days it is.  Somedays, we just don't feel like being Christ-like.  That's when sacrifice comes in.

It may not be me giving up things financially... I may need to do that some other time.  It may not be me being physically uncomfortable, and there may be times when I'm called to do that, too.  However, it's putting Christ at the center of my daily life, and making a daily, intentional decision to die to Him... so that I can live.  And hopefully, so that others will want to live like me... like Him. 

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