And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.”
-Mark 8:34-35, ESV
Sacrifice is a key theme of being a Biblical Christ follower.
I mean, it really can’t be a whole lot more clear when Jesus says stuff like that quote up above. Giving of ourselves and giving of our lives is not optional. It’s a natural part of being a Christ follower.
Think about the numerous stories of people in the Bible, and what they sacrificed in their pursuit to love God. I think of a guy like Paul, who gave up the wealth, power, and prestige of being a big player on the Jewish religious scene in order to follow Christ. He’d eventually give up his life for that very cause. I think of the disciples, too. With the exception of John, tradition is that every single disciple gave up their life as a martyr for the gospel. The ultimate example of sacrifice is Jesus; He gave up the comfort of heaven so that He could come down to earth, not just to teach, but ultimately to die a painful, difficult death on our behalf.
2,000 years later, things have changed in some parts of the world. Being a Christ follower in America will probably not require you to die for what you believe in, as it did for people like Paul and the disciples. However, being a Biblical Christ follower will still require sacrifice. I think of people like our Africa team who is in Liberia right now, giving up their time, money, energy, and all sorts of stuff so that they can serve God in a foreign country. I think of amazing people who have chosen to give their livelihood in order to serve the poor and care for those in distress.
Those are just examples. The concept of “sacrifice” will be different to each person, based on what your life situation is right now. For you, it might be as simple as sacrificing time by serving on a ministry team. It might mean a sacrificing of your selfish wants, desires, or priorities so that God can help you work toward His priorities.
Sacrifice is going to be a big theme over 2010 at Suncrest. Now, in our Jesus Mission series, we’re talking about sacrifice in several ways:
- A sacrifice of my service, deciding to become part of one of our new campuses or one of our future Africa teams
- A sacrifice of my resources, going above and beyond in my giving to help resource the work God is doing through Suncrest in Highland, South Bend, and Liberia.
- A sacrifice of my comfort, choosing to fast for whatever length of time about the ways in which God wants me to become a part of the Jesus Mission initiative.
I don’t know what sacrifice looks like for you, but I believe that it’s part of being a follower of Jesus. It’s part of how we can cultivate our relationship with Him.