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Romans 12:1 (NLT)
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.
I had already picked out Romans 12:1 as the subject verse for this morning’s blog when I came across a freshly published post, “A Life Lived Well: What does it mean to live a life that is pleasing to God?“, from a fellow blogger, Kim (aka: “thatchristianstudentlife“). Kim’s post fits in perfectly as an application testimony on the subject of Christian life as a living sacrifice, so I am including excerpts from her post here. [See url below:]
“A Life Lived Well: What does it mean to live a life that is pleasing to God?”
After my Gap Year spent doing missions work I was pretty stressed about coming to University. Didn’t God want me elsewhere in a desert or jungle, a dramatic backdrop to the revolutionary missionary I wanted to be? But the days drifted away and slowly it became more and more real to me that I would become a student at a normal University, just like everyone else. I never expected it to be the biggest mission field I’ve encountered.
…Crucially, when it came down to the question of a life that pleases God I was enthusiastically working out ways I could show the gospel in what I said and did, hoping that somehow I could wheedle God into conversations with my friends… I was [attending] my least favourite college, surrounded by people I would not naturally be friends with, in a building and location I hated, and few chances of meeting new people. I thought, “if God has put me here, in my least favourite place, the only possible reason is that it’s not for me but others. It’s my mission field.”
…getting involved with the Christian Union and mission projects to Uni students I felt a new buzz. This was my calling, this was my place: the gospel has such an impact in a hotpot of identity-forming teenagers and twenty-something’s.
…The thing is missions to others and not my relationship with God became a priority… I was willing to compromise almost anything for the sake of missions… My thinking went like this: “…If God wants me here then he wants me here to make friends with these people. That requires compromise on my morals now and then but so be it. If it gets them closer to understanding God, what’s a personal sacrifice here and there?”
…And now I see what’s wrong. I still don’t know how God had planned to use me, when all I could see were dead ends, but I’ve lost the integrity I once had. I’ve made friends with those who see sober people as boring and I feel hypocritical when I’m with them and when I’m with friends who don’t drink. I may feel like ‘myself’ when I’m with my friends outside of college but then I’m ashamed of how they’d view my behaviour with my college friends. I’ve started to live in a circular rhythm of absorbing the culture around me while trying to reflect God, blocking access to what really fulfills me for the sake of what I believed was my ‘Christian calling’. This is not God’s design. He doesn’t make us stoop to lift others up. As confusing as this is to me, God wants us to live out our lives in holiness and loyalty to him even if that means people reject us. Especially if it means people reject us. I thought rejection was a broken bridge, one that I could never cross to bring people back to God. I took it as a sign that I had failed God in my ‘missionary’ role. But that is not God’s desire. He warns us that people will reject us because of our Christian lives. If He can accept that, then why shouldn’t I? It’s such an obvious truth, but somehow it’s got twisted along the way. Missions is not God’s calling. Relationship with Him is. If you’re somehow sacrificing what He values because you think it will allow you to share Him with others more easily, you’ve got it wrong. Jesus led the perfect life yet when He died only one disciple is recorded as being there. To live a life that is pleasing to God may not look like a harvest of mission. It might look like a desert. But please, if there’s anything you take from this, let your heart be more inclined to how you live before God than how it affects others. He’s big enough to deal with their souls and if He uses you to help, He’ll use you, not some diminished version of you that’s more attractive to others. Jesus is different and it’s okay to be different too.
So, as Kim testified to in her post, we are called to live a life pleasing to GOD. We are not called to live a life pleasing to others, in an attempt to win them for God! To reiterate Kim’s words:
“He’s big enough to deal with their souls and if He uses you to help, He’ll use you, not some diminished version of you that’s more attractive to others.“