Sometimes faith makes no sense at all
Published 8:58 am Friday, April 20, 2018
Recently, my wife and I have been helping our son prepare for his driver’s license test. So far we’ve survived, and our prayers are with the officer who will be in the passenger seat as well as with the driving public at large.
In addition to helping him learn some of the finer driving skills (like parallel parking), we’ve also stressed the need to avoid the bad driving habits that are tempting to fall in to and that can fail you on the test, like making a rolling stop.
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How oxymoronic is the phrase, “rolling stop.” Isn’t that impossible? If you’re rolling, you can’t be stopped, and if you’re stopped, you can’t be rolling.
We have all kinds of phrases in our language that, though they describe something real, in a literal sense they make no sense at all.
We talk about “open secrets” or being “clearly confused.”
We say, “act naturally” and we want an “unbiased opinion.” Every opinion I’ve ever given or received is biased.
We give a “definite maybe” and want an “original copy.” We’re impressed with “virtual reality” and then we say, “Microsoft Works.”
Last week, I got behind a truck, and a placard on the trailer said it was hauling “liquid gas.” That’s either an oxymoron or plain repetitive.
If I didn’t show up Sunday morning to preach, I hope that I would be “found missing.”
Last week, my wife made French toast — with Italian bread. And she prepared the Italian bread French toast using almond milk.
No wonder I’m, “clearly confused!”
I hope you’re laughing. I hate it when “the silence is deafening!”
See if you can pick out the oxymoron in this Bible verse: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper worship (Romans 12:1, NIV).”
I understand almost every word and phrase in that sentence except “living sacrifice.” What is a living sacrifice? If you’re living, then by definition, you can’t be a sacrifice. Or, if you’re a sacrifice, you probably won’t be living very long.
I’m not sure what that means, but whatever it is, it’s something with which God is pleased.
When you study it out, you find becoming a living sacrifice is something Christian folk do that demonstrates God is transforming them into something new and different and better. Transformation is God doing something in me and me cooperating with him. It’s never easy, and it doesn’t come naturally, but it always results in something beautiful, like the metamorphosis of a caterpillar (or larvae) into a butterfly.
Part of transformation is becoming a “living sacrifice,” continually giving or sacrificing without ever completely dying.
Matthew Kim says it bluntly: “Being ‘living sacrifices’ means that we get out of the comfortable mode of ‘feed me’ and ‘serve me,’ to ‘I’ll feed others and serve others.’”
An example from the ant world makes the point. According to an Associated Press article, certain ant species in Central and South American rainforests will lie down in potholes that stand between their colony and food. Their bodies form a makeshift bridge, allowing other ants — sometimes more than 200,000 of them — to make better time in getting to the source of food.
This pattern in the life of ants was discovered through research done at England’s University of Bristol, where researchers took a wooden plank and drilled different sized holes in it, simulating a narrow trail. Ants would find holes equal to their size and lay down inside, letting others walk safely over them.
When the raiding party accomplished its mission and was returning to its nest, the faithful few climbed out of their holes and followed the other ants home. That’s a living sacrifice.
That’s becoming a living sacrifice, something that doesn’t at first make a lot of sense, but something very beautiful and an example our world needs to see.
I remember taking my driver’s license test many years ago. I was nervous. Parallel parking intimidated me, and I made sure I didn’t perform any rolling stops. And I passed.
The tests keep coming, and they’re not getting easier. I need to pass the test of being a living sacrifice and I need prayer because it doesn’t come naturally, and sometimes, it makes no sense at all.
Forrest Hahn is pastor of Christview Christian Church. He can be reached at email@example.com.