In the car a couple days ago I was rerunning a random conversation from the past and thinking how different my reply would be now. The situation that elicited the discussion was about a friend who was a talented actress. She was cast in a play in which the costumes were racy, the dialogue not edifying, and the after hours activities of the cast were very much worldly.
circumstances | God | sacrifice
Within our conversation, I asked why she took the role, with as many spiritual concessions she was having to make. In essence, her reply was that God gave her this gift of acting (which I do not doubt in the least), and that if she was going to use it these were the types of boundaries that she was going to have to cross. The response that I would change had something to do with her trying to be a light in the darkness.
When Paul writes that we should be living sacrifices, we seem to apply that to things we have some semblance of control over. I’m going to not see ‘R’ rated movies – sacrifice, I’ll tithe – sacrifice, every week I will go to church – sacrifice, maybe if I am feeling super spiritual, I will fast – sacrifice. You tracking with me? But what if our living sacrifice had more to do with us?
Maybe my advice to my friend should have been something like – if you believe that God gave you this gift, maybe He is asking for you to offer it back as an act of worship for his glory. The lack of godliness in the roles you are pursuing may be something God is trying to use to draw you closer to him and being satisfied in his love alone, rather than being satisfied using the gift. Maybe, just maybe that is the thing that you are to lay on the altar our of your love for Christ.
A living sacrifice.
How would she have responded? I can guess. That is a totally skewed view compared with most things I’ve read and heard over the years. But it seems to fit.
Ever think about the gifted communicator that is jailed for his convictions? John Bunyan comes to mind. Why did God allow him to be there when so many people could benefit from his eloquence, which by the way was his gift in Bunyan’s life. I think it is probable that God love John enough that He wanted John to lay his gift on the altar as living sacrifice. God gave the gift and for a season Bunyan got to give it back as an act of worship. He could have lied to get out and continue preaching, God could have sent an angel to unlock his chains and walk him out the front door, but instead God was most pleased to have Bunyan lay his gift on the altar.
A living sacrifice.
It is God we are to delight in, not anything else, including using the gifts He’s given us.
Maybe this is why God allows women who are designed to bear children to be frustrated; people who are designed for intimacy not to be able to attain it; those who save and save not to be able to get ahead; people to be held back in using the special gifts.
We are to be living sacrifices, please to God in Christ despite our performance, and He wants us to delight in him just because “I AM”. Independent of what we get from him and independent of our circumstances.
Let’s experience his rest and become the living sacrifices He desires.