When I grow in understanding that the Christian life involves sacrifice, I find it a little easier to let things go rather than to stew about them. I expect my faith to cost me something. Besides, our sacrifice is minuscule compared to what saints in days gone by and many people today have given and are given.
Little things, like foregoing your three-mile run in order to take a person with a disability to the store or sacrificing a leisurely Sunday afternoon in order to take a hurting couple out to lunch can either derail your joy or deepen your faith, depending on the attitude you have toward Christian sacrifice. This insight can literally slice through the deepest bout of disillusionment.
…Life can call us into places where we feel as through we’re being poured out on behalf of others. If we don’t build a spirit of surrender and sacrifice, we’re liable to grow resentful and bitter during such seasons. John Calvin urges Christians to find comfort in Jesus’ words to the sons of Zebedee: “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with? (Mark 10:38). Calvin makes this observation:
These words contain no ordinary consolation for alleviating the bitterness of the cross, when in the cross Christ associates himself with us. And what could be more desirable than to have everything in common with the Son of God? For thus are those things which at first sight appear to be deadly made to yield to us salvation and life.
…This is “no ordinary consolation,” for it means we are invited to share in Christ himself–but even this consolation doesn’t completely annul the fact that there is still the “bitterness of the cross.”
…Many of us casually approach God with a spiritually gluttonous attitude: “God, where’s my next blessing?” How come you didn’t resolve this? What’s up?” We’re like a teenager with a bag of potato chips. We keep popping the chips in our mouth, but all it does is make us crave more.
Scripture and the Christian classics call us to an entirely different orientation: Are we in the Christian faith for what it gives us, or is our chief purpose to glorify God? Until we resolve this question and get our priorities straight, we will at times resent God, occasionally become bitter at God, and even, perhaps, become disillusioned with the Christian faith. But once we adopt a heart of sacrifice, a mind-set that we are here to serve at God’s good pleasure, everything else tends to fall into place.