Letting go

When listening to an interview on Moody Bible Radio, on Chris Fabory Live, featured was a young lady named Bethany Hamilton, who is a professional surfer and also the victim of a shark attack. This perceived tragedy has been used as a testimony to many, as she still competes as a surfer despite missing an arm, and even has a feature film based on her life. In the interview, the young lady said something that I thought was quite profound—that she was glad that her arm was gone! Her reasoning was that her missing arm, because of the shark attack, was bringing God glory and that he had indeed worked his hand in her life for the good.

This comment really made me think. Perhaps the first thing I thought about is how as Christians, we are so unwilling to give up things—even when it is for our benefit. The passage of scripture that came to mind was Matthew 18:8-9, which reads:

“If your hand or your foot cause you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.”

In this instance, Jesus is speaking to his disciples about the requirements of spending eternity in heaven and how unwillingness to deny oneself (Matt. 16:24) will result in eternal separation from God. Unfortunately, there seems to be a spirit of attachment in the church today, where Christians are not willing to sacrifice. The life of a follower of Christ is personified by sacrifice. Romans 12:1 is clear in this regard, “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.” Notice that this text points out that being a “living sacrifice” is our “spiritual act of worship.” Jesus told the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well that God was indeed looking for those who will worship in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24). It can then be said that living a life absent of sacrifice is not one that meets the requirement Jesus gives for worship.

There is also a misconception when it comes to living a “sacrificial life,” where it has simply come to mean abstaining from sex outside of marriage. Living for Christ cannot be relegated to celibacy; besides, fornication is sin (1 Corinthians 6:18) and our Christian lives are clearly not to be defined by sin (1 John 3:6). Living before God is much bigger than sex. Two scriptures in particular come to mind when discussing living before God: Proverbs 3:6 and Galatians 5:25.

Proverbs 3:6 reads, “in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Acknowledging God in all of our ways means exactly what it says! This includes our interactions with people, the places we go, our conversations, our thoughts, attitudes and the list goes on and on. Having a constant consciousness of God (Colossians 3:2, Philippians 4:8) is what being a Christian entails. Prior to salvation, we all lived a life without a regard for God, but our old lives have passed away and we are now free to live lives in fellowship with Him.

Galatians 5:25 tells us, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Walking with the Spirit requires submission to his promptings; if the Spirit can be quenched (1 Thessalonians 5:19), then this indicates that we have the power to decide whether to walk with or against him. Walking contrary to the Spirit means that we are walking in the flesh (Galatians 5:17) or fulfilling the desires of our sinful nature. Constant fellowship with the Spirit empowers us to put to death our own will and follow the will of God.

Our greatest example of submission to the will of God is Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. Faced with impending death, Christ prayed an astounding prayer: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). Our lives should reflect Jesus’ prayer. Every day we live is another day where we say “yes” to the will of God. This “yes” is one that requires sacrifice; it will require giving up some things and will even mean suffering. There is one thing that is guaranteed, however, “our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).


~ by christianballenger on May 4, 2011.

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