"For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise — the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased."
Sacrifice is an important theme in Scripture, coming up in subtle and significant ways throughout both Testaments. The most profound sacrifice in the Bible is Jesus' death and resurrection, which both solidifies our salvation through Christ and invites us into a sacrificial calling as followers of God. However, the people of God were called to sacrifice long before Jesus walked the earth... so what does it mean to live sacrificially? According to our Monday text (and personally, I believe this is true in the Old Testament as well), living sacrificially means living in such a way that you and those you interact with are free to love.
This passage in Hebrews includes many different types of sacrifices that "let mutual love continue": remembering those in prison and those who are tortured, remaining faithful in marriage, not idolizing money, being content, remembering leaders, offering praise to God, and doing good. While this is a good list, it is certainly not an exhaustive one. There are many ways to 'let mutual love continue.'
It seems to me that at one point or another, all of us will act in a way that does not fit this list. Perhaps you have not always been faithful in your marriage, or you wrestle with a deep love of money, or you are at a point in your life where you are absolutely not content. These decisions/attitudes hinder the flourishing of mutual love because they shift our attention to something other than sacrifice: how can you make sacrifices for your spouse when you are cheating on them? How can you be generous with your resources if you love them more than what they could be used for? How can you be free to go about your day if you are overcome by anxiety?
This reflection is not meant to produce shame or guilt, both of which are absent from the gospel, but rather to encourage us all to take a temperature check on our own souls: are you postured toward living sacrificially today? If you are, where and how is God calling you to sacrifice today? If not, what or who is holding you back? How are you letting mutual love continue?
- Pastor Audrey
How might you sacrifice something to "let mutual love continue"? Sometimes sacrifice means letting go of our own need to be right. Take a moment today to consider sacrifice in your interactions with others. If you feel defensive, consider apologizing before you try to defend your own attitude or actions.
God of Love, you have called us to love one another. Show us the ways that we can love one another through sacrifice. Help us to model the sacrifice you showed us in sending into the world your Son, Jesus Christ to die for us and for our salvation. Amen.
In your journal or a blank sheet of paper, draw or write your thoughts.