Pastor Aaron Visser
Romans 12:1-2: "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. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."
As Christians, one of the things we tend to say is that we are called to offer ourselves as "living sacrifices." We spend a lot of time and energy talking about what this means exactly and how we go about doing it.
However, rarely do we talk about to whom we are supposed to do it.
I think we conclude, incorrectly, that to offer ourselves means to subject ourselves to the abuse and mistreatment from others. We take the concept "love thy neighbor" and turn it into "let thy neighbor do whatever they want to us." What happens is we end up offering ourselves as living sacrifices not to God, but to other people. And while we are called to love others as God loves them, they are not worthy of our sacrifice. That status belongs to God alone.
Now, you may ask, "But didn't Jesus offer himself to us when he died on the cross?" That is a common misconception. While Jesus died on behalf of humanity, it is not to us that he made his sacrifice. Rather, he says to God "Unto you I commit my my spirit." He gives his life to God, to satisfy God's wrath, not ours.
Too often, we sacrifice ourselves to satisfy the wrath of others. We are controlled by them through manipulation, fear, or misplaced pity. And when we do this, we end up actually impeding the Kingdom work that God desires to do in us because we are not living for him, but for the approval of others.
So go ahead, love each other as God loves us. Treat each other with respect. Live a life that honors the Imago Dei (Image of God) in each of us. But don't sacrifice your life to one another. Sacrifice your life to God alone.