“Therefore, I urge you brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:1-2
God calls us to be a living sacrifice. This means realizing Christianity is not a spectator sport. It involves personal engagement. A living sacrifice gives oneself wholly to the cause of Christ.
There’s a story in the Bible where a man thought he could follow Jesus from the sidelines. He thought that just mentally assenting that Jesus is God and obeying some commandments and showing up at church made him a believer. However, Jesus challenged his thinking. Simply showing up at the stadium, wearing the gear and cheering loudly does not make you on the team. A true team member or believer is one who has a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus and who makes the every day sacrifices of being on the team. It takes the choice to sacrifice. This man had to make two sacrifices.
Sacrifice your spectatorship. This young man recognized Jesus as a “good teacher”. He also kept many of the commandments. Externally he looked like he was a believer. Yet, Jesus told the boy he still lacked something. Many teens, especially churched teens, are depending on their spectatorship of Christianity to give them credibility with God and with others. The reality is that God is not fooled nor are those around you. They know where you truly stand. Do you know how they know? Because, when the pressure is on your true faith is revealed. When you get into challenging circumstances your convictions about what really matters are communicated to others through your words and actions. In other words, faith is not created but revealed in difficulty. What are you revealing about your faith?
– Describe your first experience of going to a church. What was it like?
– Why do you think Christian teens are tempted to be spectators rather than enter bold adventures and risk taking for God?
Sacrifice your substitutes. Jesus told the man that even though externally he was a believer, he still lacked one thing. He told him to sell and give away everything he had and then he would earn treasure in heaven. In other words, he had to sacrifice the things that were taking the place of God in his heart. The man went away sad because he treasured his idols and God-substitutes more than God himself. How unfortunate? Teens must make hard choices to prioritize what really matters. Will they seek acceptance in the world’s eyes or God’s?
Luke 9:23 “Then Jesus said to them all: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
When you hear the word “sacrifice” or “deny self” we often think these as negative terms. How can Christians view this lesson and these concepts as something positive?
Spend a few moments in prayer asking God to show you what sacrifices you need to make in your life.
TAKING IT HOME
- Do you enjoy more observing or participating? Why?
- Describe your first experience of going to a church. What was it like?
- Why do you think Christian teens are tempted to be spectators rather than enter bold adventures and risk taking for God?
- What does it mean or look like to be an observer or active participant in Christianity? Do you think unbelievers can recognize the difference between these? Explain.
- What is the difference between a living sacrifice and a dead sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2)?
- If your house were on fire, what one thing would you grab to save? This points to what you supremely value; and perhaps Jesus may be asking you to sacrifice.
- What sacrifices do you need to make in order to be shown as a true believer (team member) of Jesus?