- Phil Berquist
Earlier today I teased our Les Mis-loving student intern about missing our pastor's "performance" of a line or two from said musical while she is out of town on a mission trip. "Serving means sacrificing," I told her in jest.
While the context was humorous, I really believe that true service will require sacrifice. Maybe not always, but if service leads us to put others first, there will come a time (or many) when not putting ourselves first will cost us something. As a believer in Jesus Christ, this principle is inherent to the Christian life. However, as imperfect people undergoing sanctification, it is a lesson to be learned seemingly ad nauseaum.
I've been thinking about service and sacrifice a lot, recently. You may have heard that my wife and I are expecting a baby boy in December! We have decided on the first name, Deacon. For starters, we like the sound of it, and it's a little uncommon. We also like the meaning. Deacon comes from a Greek word meaning "servant." While we pray that our son will come to saving faith in Christ and devote his life to Him, we know that he may not. And if that's the case, we'd still like for his name to be a reminder to him and every one else that his mom and dad believed every person was put on earth to serve the Lord and serve others. (And, yes, we know how silly it will sound if he becomes an actual deacon or pastor... "Pastor Deacon or deacon Deacon!")
Expecting a baby boy also has me thinking about sacrifice. Our church is currently studying faith in the life of Abraham. We know full well what's coming in Genesis 22, when Abraham is asked to prepare an altar and sacrifice his son. I can't even comprehend it and I haven't even met my son, yet.
I don't believe I will be called to raise a knife to my son, but I know God has called me to devote everything to Him. This includes my children. I've always been moved by Hannah and her devoting of Samuel to ministry in the temple (1 Samuel 1) and have hoped that I would have that kind of attitude if I ever were blessed with children. Well, now I have one on the way, and I'm praying that the Lord will find us faithful in parenting. I know the temptation to worship my child(ren) will be strong. I've seen it (and judged it) in others. Now I'll be walking in those parenting shoes, feeling the shame of my own hypocrisy, I'm sure.
I know one needn't be a parent to experience sacrifice (see Jesus, Paul, etc.), but I also know there are levels of sacrifice that will be thrust upon me that I have not even imagined! It's a little daunting to say the least. So, I pray that I won't lose sight of WHY I'm sacrificing. I pray that my self-denial wouldn't give way to bitterness or resentment, but to a better idea of Who Christ is. I pray that the whole process will drive me into more of a moment-by-moment trusting in Christ. And I pray that God would be glorified by Deacon Wilson's life as it becomes a testimony of His great gospel.