A life well-lived involves something we hesitate to extend
February 6, 2019
Brodie Croyle, Executive Director
Many of us carry a sentiment that there are certain roles within society, certain professions or callings that require people to make sacrifices for the sake of something greater than themselves. However, we so often quickly assure ourselves that, while this is a nice thought, it doesn’t apply to us. That we must draw lines, we must protect ourselves, we must defend our lives as we have come to enjoy them. I’ve realized that while this keeps us comfortable, it’s not altogether true. If we’re being honest, as we look at the staggering statistics of the state of the family in our country, we’d have to say that this unwillingness to sacrifice what we love for something Greater, is exactly why what we love is failing.
I speak about passion often and acknowledge its importance in making an impact and leaving a legacy worth replicating. Many of us remember that physical feeling deep within that came at the very beginning of salvation, of marriage, of entering into ministry. We should reflect on that and keep it alive even when the road becomes difficult. But as we all know, passion without commitment to obedience won’t last.
In the life of a believer, there is a moment when Jesus called us to a relationship with Him and we recognized Him for Who He is and who we are not. The moment was realized, the need was great and the Gift was so extravagant it created a passion inside of us that was unstoppable. But what happens five years (or five weeks) down the road? The physical feeling fades and we must constantly recall the Giver and the Gift. We must commit to obedience, to the discipline required for the Christian life. No matter the sacrifice. J.D. Greear describes today’s failing marriage epidemic as this, “Divorce was not usually the problem (referring to Israel’s altered view of marriage); it’s the fruit of the problem. The root is a life that is self-centered.” In marriage, passion is needed, but commitment to and sacrifice for the other are that much more important as days go by. Greear continues by saying, “Marriage is not ultimate; it is a sign and shadow of a higher reality.” As we consider the implications of this even in ministry, we have to first remind ourselves of the purpose of ministry - to serve as a preview of a Higher Reality. Ministry is a way to address the current known and unknown needs of people through unconditional love in order to point them to their Redeemer. Although that is a nice, buttoned-up definition, it is far from easy. The schemes of evil are always at work in pursuit of confusion and destruction of Good. It will require sacrifice. It will require a laying down of our desires at times. In Matthew, Jesus called James and John to leave their career as well as their father to follow Him. God asked Abraham to offer his beloved Isaac. Stephen was called to lay down his life. Mercy entered into each of these requests every time. And while each of those moments in history involved a specific commission on a unique life for an appointed purpose in time, they are moments that show us God wants our willingness to lay down temporary delights for the eternal saving of souls. He wants to know that our love for Him and His glory outweigh our own earthly desires.
God doesn’t ask us to sacrifice for the act of ministry itself, out of obligation to our spouse or because we feel as though we have to or we make God angry. But He does ask us to be willing to sacrifice anything so that the Purpose of it all, the message of the Gospel, can be taken to the hurting.