IS HE WORTH THE SACRIFICE?
II Sam.24:22 And Araunah said unto David, Let my lord the king take and offer up what seemeth good unto him: behold, here be oxen for burnt sacrifice, and threshing instruments and other instruments of the oxen for wood.23 All these things did Araunah, as a king, give unto the king. And Araunah said unto the king, The Lord thy God accept thee.
24 And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that which doth cost me nothing. So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.
25 And David built there an altar unto the Lord, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the Lord was intreated for the land, and the plague was stayed from Israel.
The Industrial Revolution brought forth a literal tidal wave of inventions that not only enhanced our earthly lives but also provided ingenious ways to build things quicker and at a reduced price. Eli Whitney incorporated the assembly line method which is still in operation today. It constructs things quickly and makes these things affordable to a wide variety of people. And here we are in 2013 where almost everyone owns a car and a cell phone and a television. I can remember the first digital watches selling for $200 which now can be bought for $7 in Wal-Mart. Thirty years ago a television remote was special and expensive item while today you probably cannot even purchase television without one. I could list thousands of things which are commonplace today but which a few decades ago were absent from the culture.
Years ago a color television was precious. A cell phone was very special. A Walkman was a phenomenon. A VCR was a luxury. But today all those things have lost their special quality and now they are taken for granted as things that everyone should have. And that is exactly what has happened to the faith of Christ today. The mystery is gone. The sacredness is gone. The preciousness is gone. The sense of eternity is gone. And just like our modern conveniences the faith has become something that is taken for granted and costs nothing. Self denial and sacrifice are something that athletes practice and people do to lose weight, but they cannot be found in the church anymore.
Think about what terms like “self denial” and “sacrifice” might mean in the context of a modern believer’s life and in the life of the church as a whole. These surely do not just mean refraining from sin and all its ways. That is a given. But what do we deny ourselves today? What kind of sacrifice do we make today? We enjoy the benefits of His sufferings and sacrifice, but what do we sacrifice for Him? What does “take up your cross” mean? Does it only mean to include it in your statement of faith?
Are we missing an important and necessary element of the faith which follows Jesus? Yes, salvation is by faith alone, but what is that path for the redeemed sinner who is now a child of God and a follower of Jesus Christ? Is that path basically like the path for the unbeliever with a few doctrinal differences? Or is our path completely and profoundly different in ways that are observable to the world? This nonchalant path that the western church has laid out is a fraud. And worse than nonchalant the church now teaches and enjoys the fruits of a hedonistic lifestyle. While the martyrs went to the stake we now go out for a steak.
If the extent of your worship takes place in an air conditioned room with wonderful music and a limited time frame then all you are doing is enjoying a self serving experience. And if you leave the gathering the same way you came then you never met with God. If there is no sacrifice in your life then there is no authentic worship.
Phil.3: 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
Jn.16: 33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
And in light of these Scriptures how is it that in the very midst of the most hedonistic, immoral, and violent culture we as believers seem to blend in so fully? And just what do we suffer for His sake? And just what persecution do we endure? This western brand of Christianity has been birthed from the culture and not the Scriptures nor the Spirit. Preachers are treated like gods and debt ridden building litter the landscape and the pursuits of believers come from the same menu as unbelievers. Rising gas prices are our tribulation and political causes are our banner.
The church desires to “have a seat” at the political table and it even suggests that it is the rightful heir to the country known as America. Activism has replaced prayer and believers join hands with moral unbelievers and even cultists in order to gain political power and win elections. And because of decades of this behavior we have become known as the “religious right” rather than humble followers of Jesus and His teachings. And in a stunning display of spiritual treachery the church has taken the teachings of Jesus and repacked them into something which can fit nicely into a hedonistic democracy without fear of authentic persecution. Once believers were fed to lions but now we fare sumptuously at the restaurant of our choice.
But think about it for just a moment. What literally do we sacrifice for Him? What sufferings do we endure that are His? It is profoundly disingenuous to suggest we suffer for Jesus at all. And yet why are there no questions as to why? The comfort of this culture has reached out its tentacles and imprisoned us with earthly accoutrements and we love to have it so. And in another breathtaking alteration the church has incorporated the materialism and hedonism of the culture into the very teachings of Scripture albeit openly false.
And in light of all these things and more we cannot with spiritual integrity call what is practiced today the authentic faith taught in the New Testament. It is not. Just meditate on that statement for a while. If we really desire to love and follow Jesus then is it not incumbent upon each and every believer to search the Scriptures and see what Jesus actually taught and not just receive your “truth” through culturally compromised preachers? The very first commandment given to Moses was that we should have no other gods before the True God. But believers have all kinds of gods which lead their lives and make all kinds of demands upon their lives including giving their lives for these gods.
Nationalism and political power and entertainment and earthly success and sports have become gods. And subtly and openly they take more and more ground until the church can only do one of two things. We can either reject them and become an observably peculiar people, or we can embrace them and make them part of our religious practice. We have chosen the latter.
And so leaving the precious gold and silver of His promises and His presence we continue to feast upon the scraps of this fallen world and call it “living for Jesus”. But in the end what will we say to Him? Who will give a reasonable account for our spiritual infidelity? How will we look Him in the eye and explain away that which openly shamed Him? What words can mitigate our unfaithfulness? He gave it all for us and yet we live innocuous and saltless lives which mesh with that which is against all He lived and taught. And how do we justify such things? We cannot.
Are we not yet tired of the same old powerless expression of the faith? Does anyone yearn for more of Jesus so deeply that it drives us to be broken in the threshing floor of His prayer chamber? And knowing there must be so much more are we willing to sacrifice anything and everything in order to go where He is? Or will we just sit back and maybe lament a little but in the end do nothing of any substance which would alter our very lives. It is the dynamic and eternal difference between adhering to a religion or following a Person. And with that difference dwells life or death. Be aware, death can be all dressed up to look like life. But in the end only Jesus can bring life and only to those who diligently seek Him. But is He really worth it...