Priests in Israel served as mediators between God and the people. When people sinned, they brought an animal to the priest, as an offering, a payment for their sin, in order to be right with God. The priest would then slaughter the animal and offer it as a sacrifice to God.
In the new covenant with Christ, Jesus is the perfect, once and for all high priest. He offered himself to pay for our sins once and for all. Jesus calls each and every one of us, male and female, to offer our bodies as living sacrifices.
Our response to God’s love, our response to the forgiveness given to us in Jesus Christ, we offer ourselves, our whole being to Christ. We don’t need to go through any mediator other than Christ. He’s the only one. I’m not a mediator between you and God, as though somehow my prayers, my offerings are somehow better. We go directly to God, realizing that we are all working together, and praying for each other is a good thing!
Our lives are focussed less and less on ourselves, and more and more on God. We serve God as priests, bringing our neighbours to know who Jesus is. All of life becomes worship.
Worship is the act of ascribing worth to something. It is saying, “this person, this thing, is more valuable, more precious than anything else is.” If you know anything about the diamond market, then you know the value of a diamond depends on the four c’s: carat weight; cut; colour and clarity. The most prized diamond, is of a large carat weight, is cut excellently, has the least amount of colour and is flawless in clarity.
When we understand, as we continue to understand God’s perfect goodness, we strive to live for him more and for ourselves less. We strive to do good, and share Christ with others. We meet them where they are at. And we demonstrate our loving care for them. As you think about being a priest to your neighbour, co-worker, friend, family member. Ask God to increase your love for them. Ask him to show ways you can meet their needs. Ask him to reveal ways in which you can bless those around you. Ask God to transform your heart and mind.
We need to be transformed. Our natural, default position is to be conformed to the world around us. To do what everyone does. To quote from the book of Judges, to do what everyone saw was right in his own eyes. It’s far easier to go with the flow, to paddle downstream, to do what comes easily, what comes naturally.
But God is telling us that we need to be transformed. We need to have our minds renewed. Transformation happens through prayer. Consider prayer this way. Prayer is a conversation between you and God. It’s like a conversation you have with someone you love, deeply respect, honour and trust. You come into a conversation with someone like that with a different attitude. You come looking for knowledge and wisdom; you don’t come assuming you know everything already, and you want God to bless what you’ve already decided to do.
You listen to God. He speaks to you through his Word. You need to spend time reading the Bible. Every morning, part of my devotions is reading the Today devotional and Our Daily Bread devotional. Often, the scripture will speak to me what God’s will is for me, for my life. I glean wisdom and understanding from it. Some prefer to read the Bible through in a year. Find what works for you, and do it diligently.
Have conversations with fellow Christians. Learn from those around you. Older Christians have a lot of wisdom, much of it accumulated through experience as much as study. Have conversations with non-believers. It will help you understand where they are, what they know, what they need to know about Jesus. Ask questions! Learn!
We also listen to God through worship and fellowship. God speaks throughout the worship service. Every song we sing on a Sunday is chosen carefully. The song will reflect the overall message of the sermon text, or a particular place within the worship service. Some songs lend themselves to expressions of praise. Some songs lend themselves to deep theological wisdom and insight. Some a prayerful, some are directed to God, some are God’s word directed to us, some are words we sing to each other. There’s much more to picking songs than singing our favourites. I challenge everyone to pay attention to the songs we sing, see if you can understand why we are singing particular songs, how does it fit in the service? What is the Holy Spirit communicating through the song? Prayerfully sing the song, letting it speak God’s word to you, allowing God to transform you and renew your mind.
Listen to the message. Look for key words in the reading of scripture. Jot down points that the pastor makes. Look for points that aren’t made, and do some research on your own later. Look for ways in which to increase the impact of the message. Pastors work hard and do their best, but they fail and fall. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit works very hard, in and through pastors, in the study, in their lives, in visits, and especially in the moment of preaching. Thank you Holy Spirit for being the best communicator!
All of this, prayer, conversations with people, scripture reading, and worship services will help you understand God’s will.
God’s will is perfect, good and pleasing. It is interesting, isn’t it, that doing’ God’s will is portrayed as boring, dull and unexciting, at least by those outside the faith. We sometimes can fall into this line of thinking by believing it. We beleive that doing things we think is best, or doing what we want will be more satisfying, or better.
The confounding thing is that experience teaches us otherwise. That God’s will for my life is good, pleasing and perfect, every time. But I believe the lies that doing things my way will be better. It never is.
God’s will for me, for you, is to be more and more like Jesus. To live life to the fullest. To throw aside everything that weighs us down, to toss aside our fears and concerns, give them over to Jesus, to look at Jesus, and say, “Lord, I’m ready. I’m willing. Lead the way.”
And God will lead you: to your friends, your family, your co-workers, your neighbours. He will lead you to lay down your life for others. He will lead you to sacrifice yourself for the sake of others. Not my will, be done, your will be done, Father. Father, your plan is perfect.
God’s desire is that everyone will be saved.
As Josh pointed out last week, we are called to confess our sin, to call others to confess their sin, and to receive life from Christ. When we have prayerfully considered this, when we have trusted the Holy Spirit to tell us when a person is ready to hear God’s Word, ready to receive the truth. We will speak the words the Spirit will give us to say.
We will offer ourselves as a living sacrifice ffffdf