We Don't Like Jesus, Part 6 - Sacrifice

Matthew 10:37-42

Rev. Christopher Harbin

29 November 2015

As we reach part 6 of this series, we turn to the theme of sacrifice. I do not mean animal sacrifice, though Jesus never spoke against it. I refer instead to the larger issue of personal sacrifice in reference to living a life pleasing to God, rather than one pleasing to ourselves. When Jesus addresses themes of sacrifice, we tend to turn a deaf ear to his words, for we find them too discomfiting. They would interfere too much in our lives if we took them at face value.

Like most Baptists of my generation and the generation before me, I grew up with hymns that spoke of sacrifice. "I Surrender All," "Wherever He Leads I'll Go," "I Gave My Life for Thee," and "What Will You Give to the Master," were standard issue hymns we sang. They each spoke of our responsibility as believers to place our lives in God's hands, specifically including our finances, our time, and our efforts. It was a question of priorities before God. We defined faith and discipleship as surrendering our priorities to God and allowing God to redirect our lives, dreams, ambitions, and values. We sacrificed our dreams and priorities to lay hold of God's.

In 1978, I remember learning a new song. "Are you tired of chasing pretty rainbows? ... Wrap up all the shattered dreams of your life, and at the feet of Jesus lay them down. Give them all ... to Jesus, shattered dreams, wounded hearts, and broken toys ... and He will turn your sorrow into joy." This song gave a different twist to the idea of giving things to God. Instead of giving God our best, we were to present God our failures, weaknesses, limitations, and sorrows so that we might receive the dreams we had originally attempted to accomplish on our own. It was not a call for transformation, so much as a call to believe that God wanted us to succeed where we had failed on our own.

As far as it goes, there is nothing wrong with Mote's song. God does have a better plan for our lives and a better way to get us there. Often unrecognized, however, is that the theme of this song distracts me from seeking God's plan by telling me that I can use God to fulfill my own dreams and desires. Instead of bringing the best I have to God, I am now taking the refuse of my life to God. Sure, God wants us to do that, as well, but in the process, we simply substituted one thing for the other. We gave up on the concept of sacrifice and our lives being centered on God. Instead, we cast a picture of God being centered on us, our desires, our dreams, and our ambitions. That being the case, there is really no room left for sacrifice. It becomes antithetical to the new themes we sing, distracting us from what Jesus and the gospel actually have to say.

Jesus did indeed tell us to bring our desires, petitions, requests, and wants before God. He also told us to leave them there and accept what God had in store for us as a replacement for our dreams....

...for the full text of this sermon, see We Don't Like Jesus, Part 6 - Sacrifice, at SermonSearch.com

—©2015 Chri­stopher B. Harbin

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