Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Giving God Our Leftovers

So the Greeks tell a tale of a king named Lycaon (they actually tell about 20 variations of this story, but here is the one I'm going with), who had a family with such a reputation that Zeus had to come down and check it out. When Lycaon got news that Zeus would be joining him for dinner he went through great pains in planning dinner, after all, what do you feed a god? He finally settled on cooking up one of his servants and serving this to Zeus. When Zeus realized what he was being served, he was so angry that he turned Lycaon into the worlds first werewolf.

So what does that crazy story have to do with anything? Well, none of us would cook up another human if we were preparing a meal for the one true God, but I wonder, what do we serve Him? Oh, of course none of us would have God over for dinner and say, "hey, there's some leftover pizza in the fridge, help yourself," but what do our actions say? In my life, what am I giving God? Am I giving Him the best, or the leftovers?

I found Francis Chan's Crazy Love to be very inspiring. In one chapter, Serving Leftovers to a Holy God, he talked about this idea. God not only deserves our best, He demands it! Don't believe me? Ask Cain, he can tell you all about what God will and will not accept. But we are so blessed that we often forget the God who blesses us, or simply give to Him out of a sense of guilt or obligation. God does not want your afterthoughts, He does not want your leftovers (let's be honest, who gets excited at the prospects of leftovers?). God made this clear to His people in the days after the Babylonian exile. "You offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the LORD of hosts." (Malachi 1:8).

But we would never do this, right? We never let bills, busy schedules, forgetfulness, sports, family, or anything else get in the way of giving God the service He deserves, do we? We may not be perfect, but we are doing something, that's got to count, right? "Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the LORD of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand." (Mal 1:10)... maybe not. It sounds like God is saying He would rather have no service than poor service.

Maybe the reason why our service is lacking is because our understanding is lacking. In sociology, Lawrence Kohlberg introduced three stages of moral development:
1. The Pre-conventional Stage. In this stage we know that there are something we should and should not do. We avoid the things we should not do because we do not want to be punished, we do the things we should do because we want to be rewarded. This is the lowest stage of development, yet this is where most Christians are in their understanding and relationship with God. Most of us converted out of fear of hell and continue out of a desire for heaven; it's a start, but no place to stay.
2. The Conventional Stage. In this stage we have grown to understand that we should do certain things because they are expected of us, and because they are important to those who expect them of us. We avoid the things we are expected not to do for the same reason. As Christians this is when we learn that it is about more than heaven or hell, it is about giving God what He asks because He expects and deserves it, and we do not want to hurt and disappoint God by failing.
3. The Post-conventional Stage. In this stage we realize that we obey laws and norms because they benefit the world at large, and disobeying them harms others and is understandably wrong. Few Christians reach this point, the point where your name can replace love in 1 Cor. 13:4-8, because you love others because it helps them and glorifies God. You serve God because it glorifies Him and you realize that your purpose is to glorify Him. You learn to genuinely hate sin because it harms you, others, and your God, and nothing could be farther from your desires than hurting God or those He so loves.

Perhaps we fail to serve Him properly because we have forgotten who He is, and what He has done. We forget that God made the universe, with all its countless galaxies.

We forget that God made one celled organisms, too small to see with the naked eye, but just as complex as a galaxy.

We forget that Christ has the right to demand anything from us, because He gave up everything for us.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8)
Are you willing to say to God "everything I have is Yours, my possessions, my will, my life, my all, I put everything in Your hands."

As Christians we must give of ourselves until all that can be seen in us is Christ. That is the kind of service, the kind of sacrifice that God deserves. Don't give God your leftovers, give Him your all.

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