Sacrifice: What’s the Point?

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[dropcap]S[/dropcap]acrifice isn’t exactly a buzzword. I don’t really hear about it in popular culture unless someone has done something really amazing. I do hear it a lot in church though, but I’m not sure I see it a great deal. It’s a great word to bounce around – it has some really deep connotations, but when it comes to actually doing it for yourself, I think it becomes a whole lot less popular. So even though I’ve often thought about sacrifice, I’ve not been willing to really think it through in personal terms.

Jesus defines sacrifice. Jesus offered himself as the greatest sacrifice. By dying he took on all the things that separated us from God and gave us the opportunity to get right with God. That’s a massive sacrifice. Its the way that God makes his love most known to us (Romans 5:8). I know all this, and sometimes just stand in absolute awe of what Jesus has done. But when it comes to translating that into actions – that bit just never really seems to get off the ground.

Recently I’ve recognised that a life of following Jesus means being actively prepared to live a life of sacrifice – gritty, selfless giving. The Bible talks about presenting our bodies as “living sacrifices”, not conforming to the standard of the world, but rather doing the will of God. What blew me out of the water was that God counted the way that I lived as worship. I had never seen sacrifice in those terms and it gave me a lot to think about how I lived and what needed to change.


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“I appeal to you therefore, 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 be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Romans 12:1-2 (ESV)

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Sacrifice is contextual. God puts us in particular seasons of life, and this means we have the chance to sacrifice different things. Practically speaking, my current situation as a student means I’m stacked with deadlines, have little resources and little time. How then do I sacrifice? First and foremost, I’m called to offer my whole self: body, mind and spirit as a sacrifice. But, as I said – that’s not a simple task. It’s easy to say, but not really easy to put into action. I knew this was a real challenge, so in order to prepare for a life and lifestyle of sacrifice, I began small.

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First, I challenged myself to be more giving of my time. I began to use those times that were inconvenient as intentional opportunities to chat about the Gospel with my friends. It’s just a little step, but it meant that when the deadline was approaching and I got a knock on my door – I would open up and invite them in. When I was tired and wanted to be alone but a friend text me to hang out – I would go hang out. No one knew but myself, and it wasn’t an enormous sacrifice – but it really helped me get my priorities straight, it brought great opportunities to talk about Jesus and it helped me learn better dependence on God.

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Then I began to fast. Once a week, in the middle of the week I have a food fast for a day. This means going without food until right at the end of the day. Some days I wake up hyped, other days I’m less enthusiastic. But guaranteed, at the end of every fast day, I’m glad I did it. Throughout the day for five minutes each hour, I pause my work and take the opportunity to praise God for who he is and seek him for whatever I’ve recently been burdened for.

Jesus used to fast. So for me, it seemed a no brainer. Fasting helps me take seriously my battle with sin, my desire for friends to know Jesus, my relationships, and my future. The more I’ve fasted the more I’ve grown in passion for prayer and desire to seek God at work. It’s become a real personal help and it means that in the middle of the week I can re-orientate myself towards God and increasingly recognise my total dependency and need for him.

Taking these small steps has enabled me to begin to see what a lifestyle of sacrifice looks like. Consequently, as I’ve been asking God what I should do next in the years ahead, I’ve been increasingly drawn to things that before I would have thought were too difficult or too challenging. Its enabled me to actually desire and prepare for a life of sacrifice and service, rather than just pay lip service to the idea. This is the sort of life Jesus lived, and the radical way of living he invites us to live in response.

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