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
I have written and re-written this post several times in an attempt to talk about the call in Romans 12:1 to be holy. I finished each note, and looked back at what I’ve written and felt disheartened by the fact that I was to scared to write what I really wanted and felt to be true in my heart. This is a scary thing for me to write, and I have no doubt that it will raise eyebrows and not be a comforting post to many. But, with much prayer, lost sleep and bible reading here’s my post:
Being holy. Wow! What a command to God’s kids. I was using holy and perfect synonymously, so needless to say, I was baffled at this call on my less then perfect life. I have thought long and hard about this through the last week, and finally came to this conclusion. Being holy, does not mean I am perfect. It means that by dying to myself I can become part of the body of Christ, who will in turn, and only because of his death and resurrection transform imperfect me into the person he wants me to be.
So far, I’m sure we’re all in agreement. But here’s where it gets tough. To be holy simply means to be set apart for God. To be set apart for God means dying completely to your own desires, your own fears, and your own dreams. There’s a lie that our society has come to believe as being true, even Disney himself has sunk this into our core as being acceptable. We have been told to be dreamers. We have been to told to follow our dreams no matter how big or small. And, we have been told that when we reach them (it’s never “if” it’s always “when”), we will have achieved happiness. It seems so good and fuzzy in our hearts to say that, and to dream big and to attempt to follow it. It’s the same with the modern day philosophy that if we think about something long and hard enough that what we desire will come to us. But both of these schools of thought happen to be a self seeking mentality that the enemy disguises as a way to distract us from God’s will on our lives. They all mean that I’m depending on me to get to the final outcome, which means that I’m being the boss and seeking what I desire, and how to get there. It may in fact be a good idea, and perhaps even one that seems godly, but if I’ve failed to seek God’s direction and acted out of it, than I will only ever reach good, and fail to find the best.
Before I move on though, let me stop on the word “best”. I don’t mean if I follow God’s will I will get a better house, and a better lifestyle, I mean I will be fulfilled. There will be no emptiness in my heart when it is filled with the Spirit. No matter how amazing things in this world are, there is no substitute for the fulfilment that God can offer. So by best, I mean satisfied in all aspects. I mean a heart flowing with abundant love, and peace and gratitude for our heavenly father.
So, now back to being dreamers…
Who hasn’t dreamt about a bigger house, or living on sunny beaches, or a better job, or that thing you would fix on your post-baby body if you had the extra cash. But then there’s the sneaky little dreams that we don’t want to openly admit but that we can’t forget. The dreams that your kids will be successful and smarter than the next kid so you drive them harder to be more well rounded intelligent kids. Or that dream that one day you’ll take over the company and be your own boss, so you work long hours and miss out on your family life at home. Or the dream to be liked and glamourized by those around you, so you spend more time on your image before you walk out the door instead of reading your bible and starting the day with God. Or how about the one that you want to look more “christian” in your community, so you join every bible study, teach Sunday school ever Sunday, cook at every luncheon in the church, and sit on the board and yet you feel strangely unfulfilled. Or finally, how about that dream that you’ve actually already followed through with, and then stopped to ask for a blessing from God on it, but it never seemed to come. The one thing that these all have in common is that they take away precious time from listening to God, and seeking his will and carrying it out. They all distract from where God would really have you.
If you’re like me, you want desperately to be used by God to bring him glory. I look for ways daily on how to do this. I get tired and bored of the mundane and attempt to go and DO things for God. But, I need to remember to let go of the doing and be comfortable with the waiting and seeking part, so when God does reveal what I am to do I won’t be worn out and strapped for time from the chaos I have created be my efforts to do God’s work. Being still and patient is just as holy as doing his will, so never feel like your failing in the waiting.
Dying to ourselves isn’t figuring out how to please God, that only gets us to “good”. Dying to ourselves means leaving behind our own dreams and seeking God’s guidance first, that leads us to “best”. His will doesn’t always look like what the rest of the world is doing, it doesn’t always make sense, and isn’t always glamorous or easy, but I would rather reach the end of my life knowing that I was used to the greatest potential that God wired into me, than cross the line with God scratching his head saying “what exactly did you think you were doing?”.
If you find yourself surrounded by chaos, and wondering where the time is being eaten up in your life, it’s time to lay it down. If you are struggling as to why God isn’t blessing your efforts in something you’ve put extra time and effort into, it’s time to give it up. If your excited by the prospect that even though you think your life is good, but if you listen with a willingness to hear that you can reach something far better, it’s time to die to yourself.
I invite you to join me as I kick off the new year laying down my life and my dreams and my selfish motives for God. Put everything you’ve ever dreamt, everything you’re working overboard to achieve, and everything you’re clinging tightly to and offer it God as a sacrifice. “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” (Matthew 16:25) This week, write a list of your dreams, and dig deep, there is no dream too big or too small. Prayerfully go through your list and cross off each one as you give it to God. If you’re having trouble with one pray that God would give you peace to let go. Get comfortable with doing nothing, until you’ve been told by God what to do next and you will find freedom like you’ve never experienced, and peace in the deepest corners of your heart. Dying to yourself isn’t to give up goodness and fun and all things wonderful, it’s to lay down your own ambitions and redirect your thinking from worldly to heavenly treasures. And that’s how we can join with God to become holy.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21
Dear Father God,
Thank you for painting a picture of boldness for us Lord.
Thank you for instilling in us a spirit of courage and not timidity Lord.
Thank you for placing your wisdom and discipline in your written word, so that we
can become better stewards of the lives you have given each of us Lord.
I lift up all of us myself included, who struggle to choose your way
over our own Lord. Help us to see your truth this week as we
consider the things we are holding on to, that might not be what you would have.
Give us courage to lay those things down at your feet Lord,
to give those things to you so that
we can present ourselves as a living sacrifice, so that we can be upheld by you
and you alone Lord, and not of man made and worldly things.
Forgive us Father, for we have sinned, Help us to
walk your path Lord.
In Jesus Name I pray. Amen.