Posted by: Mike Willoughby | May 11, 2010

Who are You? (Part 1)

“Who are you and what have you done with Michael?”

These were the words of my sixth grade teacher as he picked me up from the classroom floor where one of my friends and I were holding an impromptu wrestling match. It had been an unusually bad day in sixth grade for me and it would end in the principal’s office with a meeting of the “board of education.” Why was I wrestling with my friend instead of working on my reading assignment? Who knows! Let’s blame it on Spring Fever. Fortunately for me, this behavior was not the norm. It was out-of-character for me to misbehave in class (and get caught).

Have you ever felt like asking yourself that same question when you looked in the mirror? “Who are you and what have you done with the real me?” I have looked in the mirror many times and asked that question. Usually it involves some behavior that is out-of-character with the person I know that I should be. Sometimes, I even tried to compartmentalize an area of my life and allowed myself to be “a different person” in that area of life than I was in another area of life. A Mike for the workplace, a different Mike for home and a different Mike for Sundays! Men are especially prone to compartmentalize their lives and justifying different standards of behavior for different settings. I know it remains a temptation for me.

However, this is not what Jesus expects from me. Paul lays it on the line in Romans 12:1 and there is no room for compartmentalization or justification of misbehavior.

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.

For those of us that are tempted to think of worship as a Sunday-only activity, Paul cuts right through that misconception to remind us that our spiritual act of worship is a 24/7 activity 365 days per year. This is what Jesus was saying when he responded to the woman at the well in John chapter 4.

The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

The woman lived under the assumption that worship was a once-per-week or even once-per-year activity and when not “in temple” or “in synagogue” the standards and expectations were different. She had compartmentalized her life and allowed herself to be someone other than the woman God intended when not “in church.” God seeks people who worship in spirit and in truth not in mere words and deception. It’s a very high bar but one we all need to recognize and strive for. I need to remember that I am to be a living sacrifice and that means when it comes to Mike, it should be “what you see is what you get” regardless of setting or scene.

I think Jesus knew his expectations for us constituted a high bar. However, as always he has our best interest in mind. Jesus knows this expectation of living sacrifice is actually the key to joy and peace in this life. He also knows compartmentalization, lies and deception are the tools of Satan who does not care about our best interests. Remember Jesus’ promise to us from John 10:10:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Next week, I will wrap up this thought with some practical ideas on how to be a living sacrifice 24/7/365 and have abundant life in the process.

Until next week,

Meet me at the intersection!

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