I love hearing a good turn of a phrase or a creative play on words — words crafted together that make you think or make you smile. Something that makes me think or laugh comes from words that are put together which actually contradict each other. The literary term is oxymoron. These words should not go together, but they do. Have you ever been excited to see an "Authentic Reproduction" or noticed a sign asking for "Clean Dirt"? When you think about it, should these terms really go together? Consider, "Jumbo Shrimp," an "Elevated Subway," or "Wireless Cable." These terms, along with "Mercy Killing," "Friendly Fire," or "Death Benefits," should not be put together. Each combination is a contradiction. My all-time favorites that make me laugh include "Government Intelligence," "Bitter Sweet," and "Pretty Ugly."
GIVING YOURSELF TO GOD AND ALLOWING HIM TO USE YOU IS AN ACT OF WORSHIP.
An oxymoron is found in Romans 12:1. The Apostle Paul encouraging Christians wrote, "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." How can you have a "living sacrifice"? If something is sacrificed, it is gone. When a sacrifice was offered to God on an altar, it no longer belonged to the person, but it belonged entirely to God. Additionally, in the Old Testament times, an animal that was sacrificed was killed. Something that is dead cannot also be alive, yet followers of Jesus are to offer themselves as "living sacrifices".
What the Apostle was encouraging believers to do was to make a conscious and deliberate choice. He said, "I appeal to you." The decision is ours to make. Will we or won't we surrender ourselves to God entirely for His use? The problem with being a living sacrifice is that we can take ourselves off the altar. The question is, will we stay on the altar as a living sacrifice?
Our veterans and our current military men and women are perfect examples to help us understand this concept. When a man or woman volunteers to serve our country in the military, they willingly offer themselves up to serve, protect and, if necessary, lay down their lives so that we can remain free. It is as though our men and women in uniform write a blank check that places their very lives and futures into the hands of their country. They do this out of love and devotion.
Years ago, President Ronald Reagan said that our brave soldiers who died in service for their country gave up two lives — the life they were living and the life they could have lived. Each man or woman served as a living sacrifice until they gave their last and full measure of devotion. Rightly so, each man and woman is remembered, honored, and celebrated. As every member of the military today serves around the world as living sacrifices, they are respected, revered, and cherished.
BECAUSE OF WHAT GOD DID FOR US, OUR RESPONSE SHOULD BE NOTHING LESS THAN FULLY SURRENDERING OURSELVES INTO HIS HANDS.
Serving in pregnancy center ministry is also a surrendering into God's hands. Giving yourself to God and allowing Him to use you is an act of worship. You give yourself to God so that He might use you to touch and impact another's life. You allow the Lord to use your past and present to speak into the lives of women who are facing an unplanned pregnancy or the consequences of lifestyle choices. Because you know what it is to feel scared, lonely, or unloved, you can relate to the girls you counsel, even though the circumstances may be different. You willingly place yourself into God's hands as a living sacrifice, wholly and completely. As a living sacrifice, you proclaim and point people to where they can find true life and freedom.
As a Christian, a follower of Jesus, we are called to willingly offer ourselves to God and to follow where He leads. Why? Paul says we are to do this by God's mercy. In other words, because of what God did for us, our response should be nothing less than fully surrendering ourselves into His hands. Think about it — because God loved you so much, He gave up His very Son to die for you and me so that we could be forgiven of our sin and adopted into His family as sons and daughters.
As a living sacrifice, you are an example of God's grace. You love God because He first loved you. You are effective because of His Spirit working in and through you for His glory. You remain on the altar because it is there that you are set apart for His service. On the altar is a holy place to be, and it is where we literally please God. It is where our very lives become acts of worship as we live in surrender before God. Being a living sacrifice is not a contradiction, but the only way to truly live and be used by God. It is your spiritual act of worship!
Pastor Mark Hiehle is the lead pastor of the Claremore Church of the Nazarene. He also speaks for banquets, retreats and provides tools to help pregnancy centers grow at tools at www.highcalling.com.