“... present your bodies as a living sacrifice...”
~Romans 12:1 (NRSV)
As far as spiritual discipline goes, there is great value in sacrifice.
And not getting confused with aspects of theological sacrifice instead of mercy, we hold sacrifice in its correct context. Sacrifice is a critical tool in discipleship.
Consider this thought: the sacrifice we make now in the process of working toward a milestone is worth the peace of mind we will gain. But, compromise wins only angst.
Discipleship Is About Improvement
Many people get imbalanced regarding the role that self-help plays in the Christian faith. Some boil the faith down to just a better way of living life—with not enough focus on the Saviour. Yet others, in their rigid dogma, dispel discipleship for worship.
Both must coexist—worship first, then discipleship. Jesus said we need to worship in Spirit and in truth; he also requires us to pick up our cross, bear its load, and face truths as they come into our consciousness. By being a disciple we worship God!
There is a plain truth involved in discipleship; that to improve we need discipline. To stop doing things or to start doing things requires discipline. Even more discipline is required to maintain the things we start and stop. These both are by the power of God.
It has become Christian cliché that “God loves us as we are, but doesn’t want us to remain the way we are.” Salvation is not conditional on the work of discipleship, but only the work of discipleship will allow us to experience salvation. This is what Jesus was getting at when he spoke about eternal life regarding the knowledge of God (John 17:3). We know God by the way we live for God.
The Mode of Sacrifice in Discipleship
When we have reached a place, a state of mind, where we accept the mode of sacrifice in discipleship we, at last, have a way of living the true Christian life.
This life is about jettisoning the things of the world that forever hold us back; those habits and dependencies that keep us locked in, and bonded, against, and inaccessible to, the power of God.
When we can happily kiss goodbye the things our desires grapple for—maybe taking a little but not too much—we master self-control in the moment.
When we bear in mind the eventual peace and wellbeing we will achieve for doing or not doing what we know God is calling us to, we gain the instant’s peace. This could be considered a down payment on the tranquil peace of mind we gain at every milestone. Then confidence is added; we know we are pleasing God as we follow.
Self-sacrifice is central to discipleship, as self-development is central to experiencing the eternal life now. What is central to all this is our dedication to truth. In terms of this life, only the truth will set us free.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.