closeup-fire-flame_G1xtFU_d     “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.”  Romans 12:1

Last week was our USA National Convention and the theme was, “Altar’d”, with a verse from Leviticus 6:12 on never letting the fire go out on the altar.  Each speaker brought up the theme and gave reflections on what it looked like to have the fire of God’s Presence burning in the altar of our hearts.

One speaker, Jeff Hubing, asked us to consider what comes into our minds when we hear the word “worship.”  Then he suggested some possible answers: a too short or too long time of singing before a sermon; hymns or choruses; singing that is too fast or too slow; a key too high or low to sing in; or maybe even the graphics that are now behind the words of songs because of modern technology.

Then he talked about the Bible’s version of worship which he said was more PG-13.  Worship in the Bible always involved something dying.  From Abel’s sacrifice to animals required for sacrifice in the tabernacle and the temple; Jews knew that there must be a death to satisfy the holiness of God who said the wages of sin was death.  After the sacrifice God required was given, God Himself would answer by fire.  The priests didn’t need matches.

Elijah said the God who answers by fire, He is God.  When the Holy Spirit came after the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus, there was a tongue of fire that rested on each head.  Truly our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29) and wants to baptize us in His purifying fire so we can easily live for Him.

So here’s the problem.  The only offering that is answered by fire is death.  If we try to give God a partial offering instead of making ourselves living sacrifices, we won’t have His fire in our hearts.  We will end up with a powerless version of Christianity that looks and acts just like the world.  It sounds kind of like the North American church today, doesn’t it?

We often want Jesus to help our lives and that is a great start because He loves us and wants what’s best for us.  The best, though, is not Jesus helping our lives, but becoming our life.  Paul said it this way: “I am crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.  The life I live in this body I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)   There is no “I” in “We”; Jesus wants to live together in union with us 24/7.
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In view of His mercy, let’s give Him what He died for by offering ourselves as living sacrifices for His glory and our good!

Tom Flaherty is the Lead Pastor of City Church in Madison, WI.

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