Last week, I read not once but twice in the book of Matthew (vs. 9:13 and 12:7) where Jesus says,
“I desire mercy and not sacrifice.”
For some reason, this statement has hung about the fringes of my conscience ever since.
What does THAT mean?!?
It’s LENT for Pete’s sake.
Sacrifice is the “reason for the season”, right?
So… I’ve pondered greatly. I’ve tossed and turned mightily and while I’m no closer to crystal, some things have become more clear– especially in considering of the nature of sacrifice– and the merciful smashing of my personal idols
In both cases, Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees…the “religious-minded” of every age, who like to split spiritual hairs and set others up for failure, especially if at the same time, they can seem more exalted, wise and obedient.
Comparison. Each time, it’s a comparison-based moment of UGLY, holier than thou, “nanny, nanny boo boo-istic” theology.
It’s ME-ology masking itself as theology and weighing down the “other” with too much to prove and burdens too great to bear. Trust me, it’s easier to do than we might think.
I don’t think Jesus is pooh-poohing sacrifice. Not at all. There are plenty of moments throughout the Gospels where Jesus points to the need for DEEP sacrifice in the life of anyone claiming to belong to Him:
Let the dead bury the dead, don’t look back; follow me.
You lack one thing: sell everything, give it to the poor and follow me.
Deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow me.
So in wrestling with these thoughts, I’ve come to the conclusion that Jesus is teaching about where true sacrifice is born: from mercy and compassion–not without sacrifice,
but always BEFORE sacrifice.
It’s sacrifice that
- considerately cares about and “does unto others” first.
- doesn’t draw attention to itself but lays down it’s “whatever” in favor of the other.
- is so heart-bound and Rock-anchored that it can rejoice in the triumphs of others able to overcome obstacles once blocking the way to knowing the Father.
I’m looking hard at this issue because I haven’t been so good at this in the past.
Because ummmmm, I’m not so good at this yet.
Because, although I hope I’m getting better, I don’t ever want to be that ugly again.
Because even if I have only been “in my heart bad” that’s what Jesus sees: my unmerciful heart….not my “sacrificial” outward behavior.
This next weekend I have the privilege of serving alongside some truly amazing women in our community from many different churches and denominations. For this whole weekend, we are setting aside our differences and our over-lapping “ologies”, coming together to serve about 50 girls from all walks of life and to show them what it looks like to be
REAL women who love Jesus for realz.
It’s the third year we get to host this community event and for at least two reasons, I’m more excited this year than ever before.
First, things are getting changed up a bit so that in addition to our local community “mission” projects, we are introducing an opportunity to learn about Sole Hope and inviting them to a big-fat shoe cutting party! It really excites me to be a part of broadening their understanding of what it means to serve people they will never see, in the name of Jesus….for them to begin to see how compassion and sacrifice go hand in hand and it can begin with them too.
And… the worship.
I’m so looking forward to the worship this year. I need it. I’m craving it. God has been chipping away at my veneer since this time last year and I am feeling so deeply, His heart for the world…for His daughters. I have to confess that maybe in years past it’s been 2-parts worship and one-part performance. I just don’t feel that way anymore.
I have to get to Jesus….
I want to see His face and..for these girls to see it too.
One of the songs we are singing is Matt Redman’s “Heart of Worship” and if you don’t know the story behind the song, you can read about it here. Oh my heart.
I’ve been paying close attention to the words of these songs we bring to worship and they’re wrecking me word by word and note by note.
How could I dare sing them if I don’t mean it?
But this one line in the song that gets me every time:
“I’ll bring you more than a song…I’ll bring you more than a song.”
What more can I bring? Worship that’s based in
More….of Him and less of me as often as possible.
That’s what it means to come back to the heart of worship… opening and releasing myself to His care and allowing more of His mercy to enter into the heart of every moment of sacrifice because it’s really all about Him: Jesus.
Please pray for this event…these girls… that they may come to know Him just a little bit better through experiencing their churches, their mothers, their neighbors, teachers and friends…lay it down before Him in a weekend of total surrender and worship.
My heart will sing
No other name;