Archive for November, 2010

The altar of God. All kinds of images flood my mind, from bloodied cut up animals, to Isaac lying there white-faced, wondering what was going on.  The whole sacrificial offering thing seems mysterious, violent, and severely demanding, yet still a draw upon my heart.  I find myself wrestling between wanting to offer God the best I have, but knowing that most of what I have to offer is brokenness, weakness, and a realization that I have far to go.

I know that the time for actually putting flesh and blood on an altar has passed. Jesus, my blessed substitute, paid the ultimate price of His life and became THE sacrifice for my life. What could have been required of me He did. In the midst of this death, He gives me new life. The wonder of it all overwhelms me.

Still, the altar remains between me and God. The new instructions remain unchanged since Jesus left this earth – “Come with your living sacrifice.”  No longer does God want a sacrifice of death, but rather a “living sacrifice” of my life. Really?

A living sacrifice. The mere thought of a sacrifice that lives on seems strange. How does this work? One explanation can be summed up this way…

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering.” (Romans 12:1, The Message)

My everyday, ordinary life. How unimpressive that is. How could this represent the best sacrifice for the God-King of all the universe? Then it hits me. I’m viewing this all wrong. I’m trying to offer what I want to be a finished product, imagining the offering itself becomes the end action. But that’s not it.

God’s present altar between me and Him represents something different from that of old. Before Jesus, God’s altar served as the temporary fix to keep the door open for relationship with God. But since Jesus, not only has the door been removed so that access remains always open, but the altar has transformed. Once a place for life to be drained away for another, God’s altar now becomes that place where temporary, weak life can be transformed into eternal, strong life.  As such, the best I can now offer is in fact the fullness of my heart, both what I deem as good, AND especially that which I may want to hide of my weaknesses, failures and sin.

God smiles when I come to His altar bearing the reality of my present life in all its unimpressive glory. He awaits our coming, eagerly desiring to receive our living sacrifice so that He can unleash the transforming power of His grace. What I am when I come is not what I am when I leave. In the midst of my amazement, Jesus Himself awakens my heart with His joy that knows no end.

Don’t be afraid. Bring all that you own – your strengths AND weaknesses. God stands ready to embrace and change your life beyond anything that you can imagine.

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