I just got back from a day at church camp. I'm preparing for two more weeks of it beginning Sunday. It is a trying time, but such a worthy one. This year, the camp tried something different. Typically, where we had two weeks of camp, split between elementary and a combined junior high and high school, we now have three weeks for all three levels of student. One thing I heard from all the volunteers over and again was what a sacrifice it is to be there, but how worth it the sacrifice is. We have so few volunteers to serve our students, but the students enjoy it just the same, and everyone who doesn't come has a valid reason for not being there. For many, it requires vacation time, or losing money from work, time away from family, and so many other things besides. I myself am not immune! For several years, I've missed out celebrating birthdays (or delaying them by quite a bit) with my own kids, Father's day, weeks without my family, and what is more, having to catch up on two to three weeks of work at the church to make sure our kids get to go. I know what a sacrifice it is! This isn't a recruitment add of church camp, but I say all this to make a point.
Many of us have great reasons for not participating in the Body of Christ, or in doing what's expected of us, and no more. After all, we've done our time in volunteering, we come on Sundays, we put money on the plate. What more could anyone ask? We're giving up time, treasure, and talents, after all! Yet sometimes, in my own life, I can't help but wonder if I'm giving out of my abundance, and not all that I have. Paul, in Romans 12, reminds us that the life of a believer is a "Living Sacrifice," which is our spiritual worship. Jesus, when watching people give their offerings, wasn't impressed by those giving from their abundance, but by the woman who gave two small pennies, which was all she had in the world. When we come to Christ, it's going to cost us. Everything we have, our homes, jobs, cars, families, and anything else we may have is His anyway, and we can take none of it with us when we go to meet Him. So why not live a life of Living Sacrifice? It may not be church camp, but what can we do to give all for Jesus and His people? What can we give so that we know that our home is in Christ, and not set up or established in this world?
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. f possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.