We have one life to live. What is our purpose and what are the defining moments in our life? What are the strategic benchmarks that deeply impact our soul? What captures our attention as moments to stand on, remember, thank God for, cherish, and guard? What continues to energize and charge the very essence of who we are? What is intended to catapult us into places of assurance and hope, to enable us to fully live the life intended by God for us? And what would like to short-circuit that full life?
Is COVID-19 one of these benchmarks? Is God urging us to seek Him and find out what He is saying and doing during this global crisis? We believe the answer is yes. He is not silent and is not unaware of all that is taking place and what is about to take place. Christians are reminded that the Kingdom of God is unshakable, according to Hebrews 12:28 which states
“Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude by which we may offer to God an acceptable service (worship) with reverence and awe.”
Our lives, according to Romans 12:1, are intended by God to be a living sacrifice that we are to offer to Him. This is true in easier times as well as in the midst of a pandemic. The Word of God says that we are to “present ourselves” to Him, and that this is reasonable. Is that really the loving thing to do?
Romans 12:1 AMP:
“Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies (dedicating all of yourselves, set apart) as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) spiritual service and act of worship.”
This dedication of ourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ is seen as a full presentation of our entire life to Him. That includes our opinions, personal ways of doing life, families, finances, vocations, desires, relationships, etc. This season of “pause” in 2020 is the perfect opportunity, or the perfect storm, to help us stop, reflect, and invite the full process the Lord has for each one of us. He is very intentional in this season, and we don’t want to miss our Good Father’s loving shaping.
For what purpose? Why is this presentation of our entire lives depicted in Scripture as our act of worship/service to God?
Paul urges us to take action this way because of the mercies of God. This is our response to Him. He is Mercy. He has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and brought us into His eternal Kingdom, the Kingdom of Light (Colossians 1:13). He had this Kingdom plan in mind before we were born. His plan is for each of us to deeply know Him and the power of His Resurrection and share in the fellowship of His sufferings (Philippians 3:10). This was and still is His plan. Resistance to that is resistance to Him.
Since He is All Loving, All Knowing, and All Powerful, we can say yes and are called to say yes, but we can also refuse. Scriptures tell us that if we come to Him, say yes to Him, and surrender to Him, we are citizens of this better Kingdom that He paid a big price to bring us into. We are given all things “through His divine power pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3). As a result, we are called to respond to a higher law and higher way to govern our lives. We are drawn by our Mighty God to do this and we are kept by Him. We cannot do this on our own. If we try, we will become frustrated, confused, and will give in to another system or way of doing life, leading to giving in to our own way and giving up Jesus and His ways. The Lord, the Author and Perfecter (One who makes us mature) of our faith provides all we need to live the best life that He has intended for us. We are called to fix our eyes on Him and consider Him, as stated in Hebrews 12:2-3:
“Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
The eyes (of our hearts) are to be fixed. Our eyes are to see Jesus, to steadily connect with and respond to Him. Our gaze must be firm. We are to “behold” Him. John the Baptist said in John 1:29, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
We are to follow the Lamb and know that His voice always speaks to us. His blood speaks to us. The Lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8), was destined to die for us since before creation. If we do not really have an understanding of who the Slain Lamb is and what He accomplished and stands for, how can we not grow weary and lose heart?
Our Heavenly Father has promised to keep us, protect us, love us, guide us, provide for us. But the enemy has a different plan. He wants to fool us so he can steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10a). Shaking anything that can be shaken, as seen in Hebrews 12:26-27, will occur here on this earth and in our lives so that Jesus will be glorified as the King of the Universe. The enemy must draw back as we take our rightful place. Jesus is coming back soon, and is preparing us for His return, as He is allowing all that is not of Him to be removed from our lives. This will enable us to walk out our destiny as overcomers, as described in Revelation 12:11: “And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death.” We are to invite His ways to be our ways. He wants to purify our thoughts. We will be left with a beating heart for Him above all people, places, or things.
The Lord is using this very trying global crisis to expose all areas of darkness so His Light can invade. This includes our own lives. As weaknesses are exposed, all fears will rise to the surface. This is intentional so that each one of us will become increasingly dependent on the Lamb who was slain, who has already given us victory. We will then be able to understand and embrace the roaring Lion of Judah, who is coming again.
Do we want our lives to be centered on the Lamb who was slain? Do we want Jesus to be seen and known as the centerpiece of history? Are we being provoked to desire Him, so that our lives will be shaped into all that the Lord wants them to be? If so, there will be a growing urge to continuously Behold the Lamb of God, our Sacrificial Jesus, in the deepest places of our hearts. The ultimate act of love from our Father in Heaven was to sacrifice His Son and give Him to us. That reality is loaded with Resurrection power because the Blood of Jesus changed everything for us, and still does today.
Are we determined to bring honor and glory to the One seen in Heaven? Revelation 5:9 states:
“You were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”
In Revelation 5:12-13, John beheld, and saw in the midst of the Throne, a Lamb as if it had been slain:
“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessings. And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor, and glory and dominion forever and ever.”
Jesus is alive. This is why we are to offer our lives as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1), which is holy, acceptable, and perfect in God’s eyes. Without the growing revelation of the cross, we will not understand the fullness of the next verse, Romans 12:2 AMP:
“And do not be conformed to this world (any longer with its superficial values and customs), but be transformed and progressively changed (as you mature spiritually) by the renewing of your mind (focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes), so that you may prove (for yourselves) what is the will of God, that which is good and acceptable and perfect (in His plan and purpose for you).”
This is profound. This is personal. This is the Ultimate Truth for today, which supersedes and trumps COVID-19 and anything surrounding this season. Jesus is our Solution in this crisis, on a practical level. He is calling The Church to increase “so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places“ (Ephesians 3:10). It’s time for The Church to rise!
This is the centrality of our Faith, and releases us from fear of disease, fear of the unknown, fear of man, fear of oppression, and fear of the future. May you stop and ponder who Jesus really is as the Lamb who was slain, remembering that the Lion of the tribe of Judah is roaring for His bride and is coming soon.
“Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’” And he said to me, “These are true words of God.” Revelation 19:7-9