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  • Writer's pictureKaren Pennington

Does God Really Want Everything?

Updated: Sep 22, 2021

I am a far cry from a neat freak (BIG understatement there), but I do enjoy sorting things. It calms me. It gives me a sense of accomplishment. It reassures me, though I'm not quite sure why.

Perhaps it's that whole process of taking a messy clump of items (or words, or appointments, or thoughts) and assigning them a value, a place, a purpose, that somehow makes my whole life seem more manageable. Perhaps I simply feel the need to clearly see and understand what is front of me, to know what I'm dealing with. While high volumes of intense, meaningful content can be great, chaos is maddening. Sometimes the only difference between the two comes in my perspective. And so I sort.

I think God likes us to sort things out too, especially the really important stuff. In Christ I do not see a divine lawyer asking us to sign over our entire lives without any additional question or thought. In fact, in Luke 14:25-34 Jesus literally instructs people to count the cost before following him, to sort out their own hearts, before diving into the commitment. He equates it to a person who must first fully consider the expenses involved with a building project before ever even laying the foundation.

And make no mistake about it; the commitment is great, all-consuming even. Romans 12:19 (CEB) challenges believers to: "...Present... [our] bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God." That's sacrifice language, referring specifically to the burnt offering mentioned in Leviticus 1.

Unlike any other sacrifice, the burnt offering requires that an animal be burned in its entirety, with nothing left over for the people or priests to eat. This kind of gift represents complete surrender to God. Here's another unique difference; the burnt offering requires the priests to separate and wash every part of the body and then meticulously arrange it on the altar before lighting the fire.

As living sacrifices, Christians should do the same thing. God calls us to reflect regularly on our lives, to take stock of both our inner being and our daily walk, and to bring the soiled part to Christ our high priest. Jesus can cleanse and redeem even the dirtiest things in our lives. Sometimes the fire hurts. And the more exposed we are, the harder it can be.

So why do it? Why even commit to any part of the process, let alone spreading ourselves out, naked and vulnerable, before a refining fire that is bound to burn us alive? The answer is a simple as a consideration of choosing healing over sickness; life over death; the daily adventure of grace over the eternal depravity of despair. There is no investment, no loss, no pain or challenge we can give to God that does not pay back exponentially in this lifetime or eternally thereafter. This is pain with a purpose.

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