By Jennifer Miller
My last blog looked at the story of salvation through the lens of the sacrifice of Jesus as told through the gospels. My question is how we process this and follow this request. We need to understand what a sacrifice means. According to Oxford Dictionary Sacrifice is defined as “surrendering a possession as an offering to God.”
We must then ask ourselves what are we willing to sacrifice to honor God? Are we willing to give our time, devotion/service to the Lord? Are we willing to go into unfamiliar territory to do so? What exactly does it mean to pick up your cross daily to follow Him? I believe this centers around our choice. We are placed with a short span of time to make choices that affect and shape our relationship with God. Are you willing to be a missionary if you are called to do so? Can man change his normal habits to reflect and honor God?
It boils down to this: Do we profess to love and honor God, but we refuse to take a stand or voice that love? Is our commitment coming from our heart or is it coming only from our mouth? Do not be reluctant to share everything with God. Importance of fellowship is key with God.
Unfortunately, we have many who profess (for whatever agenda they have deemed to stand upon) but have no desire or intention to progress further and grow fruit from their actions. Why do we fail to follow through on this request? Do we want to be like the Pharisees and appear to be for God, but refuse to live it out in our lives? Sadly, our relationship is what we put into it, and we reap whatever we sow or refuse to sow. Are we refusing this precious gift of grace?
Right now, we are at a crucial point in time, and many are still sitting on the bench and watching it unfold instead of standing up and doing something. Are we willing to pick up our cross and follow faithfully or is that asking too much, and we bide our time by not getting involved? Are we striving to take the safe route with little or no risk or are we willing to risk all we have to follow Christ?
Before I delve into this further, I want to stress the importance of fellowship with one another. Again, I rely on the definition from the Oxford Dictionary, fellowship means “friendly association, especially with people who share one’s interests.” When we gather to meet with our fellow brothers and sisters for the sole purpose of honoring and worshiping our Lord, we rely on the strength of fellowship. I look at fellowship as a reinforcement of our beliefs toward God. We are to be present as the whole body of the church, and comfort or encourage whenever it is needed. We are to warn one another of the dangers of falling and we are to gather and pull together to strengthen our resolve and relationship with God.
Here are some bible verses we can meditate on that define the importance of fellowship. It is more than going to a building and praising God. It is necessary for the remnant to do so and stay connected with one another.
“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
1 Corinthians 1:9
“God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.”
“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”
Thus, true fellowship is considered a community in which everyone is treated with equity. We can serve in fellowship in a multitude of ways, but they must all be in servitude and praise to the Triune God. What does fellowship look like?
In Darcy Reimer’s blog (https://www.intheriver.ca/blog/9-characteristics-of-biblical-fellowship) she describes nine characteristics of fellowship.
- Authenticity which is expressed by sharing our true feelings.
- Mutuality is obtained by encouraging one another.
- Empathy is displayed by supporting each other (the best way to support one another is by remaining in the truth).
- Mercy is when we forgive one another.
- Honesty is when we speak the truth in love!
- Humility is when we can admit our weaknesses to one another.
- Courtesy is when we respect our differences.
- Confidentiality is when we do not gossip. Some may think that it is okay to share one’s confidence with fellow believers. We need to honor their confidentiality, but if the issue is a dangerous topic or leads one to veer off the path, we need to ask if we may share our concern with an elder or a pastor first.
- Frequency is when we make the group a priority.
Look at the importance of this message by meditating on the following verses and then applying wisdom.
1 John 1:3 (focus on the Triune God)
“That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.”
1 John 1:7
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”
Leviticus 26:12 (fulfillment of the promise)
“And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.”
2 Corinthians 13:14 (focuses on the Holy Spirit)
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.”
Once we can see the importance of fellowship, we must then focus on the sacrifice we all must make if we want to follow Jesus. Again, your sacrifice can range from servitude at your church, forfeiting the necessary time each day to dedicate it to the Word. getting involved in your community, following a cause to help those in need are just some examples. We need to focus on the person (Jesus) and do the work he asks of us. Some choices may be easier than others. Some may require more sacrifice, and some can ask you to make the hard choice.
Pick up your cross and follow means that we are to be obedient to God. We follow wherever He asks us to go or do whatever He asks of us. We do not cherry pick, but faithfully follow despite the obstacles or interference in our way. The good news is that He has equipped us with the necessary skills that we need to do His will.
In my next blog I want to explore what sacrifice really is and how we need to apply it to our everyday life. My emphasis will be on our choice to stand up or remain silent. Take care and God Bless!