Offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life.
~ Paul to the church in First Century Rome
A few weeks ago, I found myself standing on a stage with a mic strapped to my face, speaking for chapel at NCC. As a soon to graduate NCC student 20 years earlier, this was barely an event that would have crossed my mind. As a high school kid a few years before that, it would have been a terrifying prospect had that eventuality sparked in the synapses of the younger me. I was petrified of speaking in public and it was the last thing I ever wanted to do. (Speeches in class were the bane of my high school existence – even at the hands of my favorite teacher.) It just would not have occurred to me that I would willingly place myself in front of a room full of people and try to communicate a message to them, let alone one as important as expounding on an Apostle’s message delivered on behalf of Christ to some of His first followers.
Incidentally, my oldest daughter was also in the room. She can see herself on the stage. She’s probably got a piano in front of her, but she can already see herself leading God’s people in musical prayer and celebration of His greatness. It’s all she really wants to do – which is why she’s on the path to enrolling there next year in the worship arts program! A former student who just graduated from that same program was there, too, leading the body to express our admiration and praise to the God who has incredibly blessed us all. It was quite a mix of nostalgia and anticipation as my past (both recent and distant), present, and future all swirled in my mind and heart like an echoing bell reverberating over and over through the landscape of my life.
Whoah. That was a little overdramatic. Sorry.
I can get carried away when it comes to the transformation that has happened in my life over the past 25 years or so. I am not who I once was because I have done as Paul instructed and God has built something different out of the pieces I returned to Him. That’s what I talked about in chapel. I have a suspicion that at least some of the students are a little uncertain as they still cling to bits and pieces of self. I suspect, like me, that they have their hearts set in the right direction and genuinely want to do whatever work God has planned for them… but they’re not quite sure they can handle it. Maybe you’re there, too. If that’s the case, let me reassure you – you’re right. You can’t handle it.
That’s why He calls us to offer ourselves (with all our inefficiencies and brokenness) to Him “as those who have been brought from death to life.” We offer ourselves to the Creator Craftsman who knows just what we’re here for and exactly how to re-shape us so that His life giving image can once again be seen in us. So just how do “those who’ve been brought from death to life” offer themselves to God?
- With Confidence – There is no longer any fear of death. He’s been there and knocked death’s teeth out. “Where O Death is your victory?”
- With Consistency – We have a constant reminder of who “orders our steps.” We are free to choose whatever steps we want to take, but only some of those steps will keep us on the path He’s intended and prepared for us. So we give ourselves to Him consistently with every choice we make.
- With Clarity – We know the stakes are high. We are not made for only here and now – we are made for something more. So we give ourselves to Him knowing this moment will give way to eternity.
Jesus’ friend Lazarus is a great picture for us. Literally brought back from death, he answered Jesus and came out of the grave! He was 4 days dead when Jesus told him to come back. I think a lot of us are “4 days dead” – not really engaged in the vibrant life of someone fully living with the Breath of God within us. Lacking clarity, consistency, and confidence, we pad along through lives that are scarcely more than grave-tending. Just waiting… Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it’s just me…
But if you’ve been 4 days dead for far too long, it’s time to take off the grave clothes, take a shower, and deliver life to the dying around us.
How do those who’ve been brought from death to life offer themselves to God? COMPLETELY