A few weeks ago in a sermon I mentioned my grandfather and the smell of his tobacco pipe. I used it as an illustration of how you could tell you had been with Jesus, you smelled like him, just like you might if you were around my grandfather when he was smoking a pipe.
My mother reminded me afterward how my grandfather had given up his pipe out of care for his wife, my grandmother. She developed a morning cough and thinking it might be from the pipe my grandfather gave up smoking. He sacrificed something he enjoyed out of love, willingly giving up to protect someone else.
Since my mom recounted this fact to me I haven’t been able to get it out of mind and I think it is such a timely example. In fact during this moment in history we are want for those that would willingly sacrifice for others. We see it in medical professionals and other frontline workers, the ones fearlessly doing the work. But the voices we hear with increasing volume are those that are done with sacrifice and would like their lives back thank you very much.
I wonder if the church should play a bigger role here. Okay, I don’t wonder, that is me just trying to be more gentle. Christians should be the first to willingly sacrifice for others. Following governement orders to slow the spread of a disease. Caring for the elderly neighbor so they are not endangered. Generously sharing what gifts they have been given. Not prioritizing our own preference but living to be spent for others.
When we are done with the “me first” mentality of our western sensibilities we might live like we are called. “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.” 1 Peter 2:21(ESV)
Are we ready for this? Perhaps this is the moment conditions are right for it. And we will certainly have opportunity to set aside our rights for the care of others in the days ahead, even in our opinions. As Brett McCracken so poignantly stated, “little is more Christian than a posture of sacrifice (Rom. 12:1). We should embrace it with gladness.”
What “pipe” is Jesus asking you to put down?