by Rhonda Jones
Jesus died for us. Everyone who considers themselves Christian, regardless of the individual ways that they choose to worship Him, understands that He laid down his life for us, who he loved so much. His death was the key that opened the Kingdom of God for us in spite of our sins. Many of us, flawed as we are, try to impinge our own desires and un-Christian values on Jesus’s sacrifice. We take advantage of the gift that He has given us and twist it to serve as a means to our own ends, but these wishes and excuses can never truly replace God’s true plan and purpose. The following is a list of six things for which we can be certain Jesus did not sacrifice himself.
1. Selfish, greedy aspirations.
Selfish goals and ambitions can show up anywhere in your life. They are most common in matters of business– some of us find ourselves worshiping monetary gains when we should be worshiping the Lord– but they also show up in your social life, your hobbies, and even in ministry. Success is not un-Christian. Jesus loves us and wants us to thrive, but success should be driven by faith and good will, not selfishness. His death was not in the name of our self-centered, ego-driven desires.
2. Convenience, comfort and complacency.
Jesus’ death was to spare us the agony of a life separate from God, but this does not mean that He was supposed to make everything easy for us. His sacrifice wasn’t to enable laziness or comfort for us. When we experience suffering or any kind of hardship, many of us assume that this is something outside of God, but in reality, He uses these trials and tribulations to help us grow and to test our faith. Hardship should strengthen your faith, not weaken it. Let His sacrifice be your strength.
3. Lives filled with luxury and material gain.
In the United States today, we live to achieve the American Dream. We strive for as much money as we can; we desire cars, a big house, a white picket fence, a family and a pure bred dog who knows how to roll over and play dead. We anticipate that if we are “good Christians,” these things will come to us as reward, but that is simply not true. Jesus Christ’s sacrifice was to enable us to seek and work to reach the Kingdom of God, not to win the lottery or buy the biggest house on the block. Pursue your faith and everything else will fall into place.
4. Fake, insincere spirituality.
This is the one thing that always saddened and frustrated Jesus Christ with the religious practitioners in His day. Faith should be a pure, natural connection with God, not a competitive show of faith that ends when you leave church. Your faith should not be a costume that you take off and put on as it suits your needs. True faith should be as permanent a part of you as your own skin. It is internal, not external, and you can’t simply put it away for a more convenient time.
5. Business and over-activity in the name of the Lord.
Modern Christian life is a sea of events, conferences and wonderful books, but Jesus’s death was for more than just a growth in Christian activity. His sacrifice was intended to allow us to foster a deep, intimate, personal relationship with the Lord on an individual level that simply cannot be achieved if you are too distracted with others who share your faith. Take advantage of the wonderful opportunities to be with other Christians, but don’t forget to set time aside to strengthen your personal relationship with God.
6. To save us sacrifice.
Jesus laid down his life to save us from darkness, hopelessness and eternal separation from God, but that does not get us off the hook. He expects us to be willing to take up the cross, just as He did, and follow His lead. We as Christians, as sinners, must make the choice to die so that we may be reborn with the life of Jesus growing strong within us. We must let go so that the Lord can live within ourselves each day.