“He [Jesus] is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” – 1 John 2:2
“For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.” – Hebrews 9:24-26
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” – 1 John 3:16
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.” – Romans 12:1
A Thought for the Day
What does it mean to “offer your bodies”? It is one of the most well-heard phrases in Christian circles. We know that it is about sacrificing ourselves in a way that somehow reflects Jesus’ sacrifice for us. But what does it even mean that he sacrificed himself? If Jesus’ sacrifice was about being punished on our behalf, wouldn’t that mean our sacrifice would also need to be about absorbing punishment?
Take a moment to consider NT Wright’s words from his book, “The Day the Revolution Began”:
“Only when we give full early Christian weight to the phrase “in accordance with the Bible” will we discover the full early Christian meaning of the phrase “for our sins.” And this means renouncing the Platonized views of salvation, the moralizing reduction of the human plight, and ultimately the paganized views of how salvation is accomplished. The first blunts the leading edge of the revolution. The second treats one part of the problem as if it were the whole thing. The third produces a distorted parody of the true biblical picture.”
Jesus was an atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world, but just like the animal sacrifices before him, that wasn’t about punishment but about cleansing. It wasn’t about absorbing God’s wrath it was about defeating sin. It wasn’t about providing insurance against hell it was about enabling us to be the people that God created in his image.
When we “offer your bodies as a living sacrifice”, or “lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters” we are using everything that makes up life (our breath, time, skills, energy, experience, values, relationships, strengths, words, etc.) to join in God’s work of restoration in this world. All things will not have been made new, nor will sin have been fully defeated, if anyone from your five is left eternally debilitated and destroyed by sin.
So, what if, offering your bodies as a living sacrifice today is about joining God in rescuing the five people you have been praying for? Be a living sacrifice as you give up time to pray. Be a living sacrifice as you share with them what God has done for them. Be a living sacrifice as you seek to help them experience the fullness of God’s kingdom through community, provision, and love. Today, be a living sacrifice.
Praying for your Five:
“Heavenly Father, today I want to offer myself as a living sacrifice for [say the names of your five]. Please help me to see how I can do that. Show me what I can give, what I can say, what I can do to help them experience and embrace the fullness of your kingdom, paid for by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We know the destructive power of sin, but Jesus proved himself to be greater than sin. Let that truth ring out through the rescue and redemption of these friends today. Amen.”
Praying Something Old
John Wesley used this prayer as part of his service encouraging Christians to renew their covenant with God, beginning in the middle of the 18th century AD. Wesley claims the prayer originated with Richard Alleine, a puritan from Somerset who lived at the end of the 17th century AD. Make it your prayer today:
I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing, put me to suffering;
let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you,
exalted for you, or brought low for you;
let me be full,
let me be empty,
let me have all things,
let me have nothing:
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things
to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
you are mine and I am yours. So be it.
And the covenant now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.
Praying Something New
Set aside some time today to use “Centring Prayer”. Sit comfortably. Take deep and slow breaths, breathing out for twice as long as you breathe in. Say the name of Jesus quietly and allow your mind to focus entirely on him. As your mind wanders away, just gently say the name of Jesus again and bring your attention back. Notice his presence. Feel his heartbeat. Hear his words. Be present with him. After 10 or 15 minutes, take some time to journal what the experience was like for you, and use the practice regularly if you found it helpful.