Sunday, 12 June 2016
Crawling off the altar with reckless abandonment
I had one of those moments this morning. One of those 'aha' moments. One of those times when you say, "Oh, well, if you would have put it that way I would have understood a long time ago."
It's the first few verses in Romans 12 (NLT), where Paul writes, "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've always understood (except not always) what was meant by the instruction. Because of the mercy God has granted me, my life ought to reflect his perfect holiness, perfect love, and perfect justice. You're with me, right? It's a tall command. It's a command that many of us struggle with. I know I do. I'm reminded daily of how I fall short of loving - intentionally loving - others. It's hard...because quite frankly there are a lot of unlovable people in this world. And, each time I fail to live up to this instruction I feel failure and regret.
But this is where my 'aha' moment comes in. This morning, while not at my usual place of worship, the pastor put it this way - "everyday, we keep crawling off the altar." Then it clicked. It's like falling off the proverbial wagon. I slip up. Lots. As much as I lack love, I'm probably just, if not more, as unlovable at times. I'm well intentioned; I want to make changes in my life, but then I hit a bump and I'm thrown off. So it is with being a living sacrifice - by daily sacrificing our lives to Christ we're climbing up the side of the altar and saying, "Here I am, God. Warts and all. Please help me to love and to be loveable. I know I'm going to slip, but I also know that tomorrow morning I'll look up, and I'll see you're face and your outstretched arm. You'll say, "Let me help you up. Take my hand. It's a new day. It's a new dawn. It's a great day to be a living sacrifice."
I want to. I really do. I want to love, be kind, and reflect God's love. But I know I'll manage to crawl off the other side when I think no one's looking at some point during my day. It's just a matter of time. I'll scale down the side of the altar, indulge in some unlovable behaviour, realize I made a bad choice, beat myself up for a while, then finally look up when I can't bear my own self deprecation, and there'll be that familiar outstretched arm.
"Let me help you up," he'll say.
And just like that. I'm looking for a latch that's come undone and a quick way off this pile of rocks.
There are moments when you can't help but just laugh. Take the time when my wife, Wendi, texted me and asked where I was. Apparently...