Welcome to Transformation Sunday! We have been counting down for seven weeks to get to this weekend-when people new to the Rock family have an opportunity to make financial commitments to NP3, our new building project in Point Loma.
In honor of Transformation Sunday, this week's message focuses on sacrifice. In opening, Pastor Miles reminds us that giving to NP3 is a sacrifice that should be made out of obedience in response to the transformation that God has brought into our lives.
To better understand why we live a life of sacrifice, we can look to the example of Jesus and the experience of his disciples. The first step in this is to understand exactly who Jesus is.
Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, "Who do people say I am?" They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets." "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" Peter answered, "You are the Christ." Mark 8:27-29
If we recognize Jesus only as a teacher, a prophet, or a good example of a moral life, then we may not be moved to respond to his sacrifice with sacrifices of your own. But Jesus wants each one of us to come to know him as Peter did, through experiencing his power and love. Only when we know for ourselves that Jesus is in fact the Christ will we be moved to respond to his sacrifice with sacrifices of our own.
Pastor Miles identified three major points from Mark 8 that illustrate why we sacrifice.
1. We sacrifice for Jesus because Jesus gave his life for us. Mark 8:31-33
It's difficult to imagine actually rebuking Jesus to his face, were he standing next to us, but that's what Peter did. Upon hearing Jesus' prediction of his coming sacrifice, Peter rebuked him, believing that there was a better way to provide salvation than for Jesus to die the way he did.
Sadly, we are not as different from Peter in this case as we'd like to be. Every time we make a decision in our life that disregards God's will and instead reflects our idea of a better way, we are essentially rebuking Jesus.
In order to be sure we got the picture of what he wants from us, Jesus came to Earth to live out the will of God. In all things he asks of us, Jesus has already set the example we are to follow. Jesus' example of sacrifice is far larger than anything that will be asked of us, but we are to sacrifice in our own ways.
2. We sacrifice by living a life of self-denial. Mark 8:34
In order to put Jesus' sacrifice into perspective, Pastor Miles reminded us of Jesus' last days. Jesus didn't want to die the way he did-his self-denial was his obedient work on the cross. Luke 22:44 tells us that Jesus' prayer for an alternative to crucifixion was so fervent that he was sweating blood. He denied himself in honor of God's plan of salvation.
Though it looks and feels very different, our call is the same. We are to deny ourselves so that others may come to know Jesus. Jesus did not die so that we could have meetings. He did not die so that we could have a shiny new building. He died so that we can know him. In the same way, our financial sacrifice can be the first step in our part to make sure that others can come to know Jesus.
3. We sacrifice in order to honor Jesus. Mark 8:35-38
In a funny way, Christianity is about opposites. If you want to be strong, you have to allow yourself to be weak. If you want to be served, you must be a servant. If you want to be smart, you must consider yourself dumb in deference to God's wisdom. In the same way, great sacrifice will lead to great gain. When we make sacrifices for the good of others, we honor Jesus by echoing his sacrifice.
If you haven't already seen it, take a minute to watch a fantastic digital rendering of the new Rock church facilities at http://www.rocknp3.org/. Afterwards, you can make a new commitment or renew a previous commitment to pray or to give.