In Romans 12, Paul calls all believers to be a “living sacrifice.” Over the years, I have written a great deal on this passage because it is so rich and has so much to say to us but here’s a new challenge.
If our lives are to be lived on the altar of Christ, continually dying to self so we can glorify Christ and love people in our actions, then one of the most difficult situations to stay there is when we have a conflict with someone, whether sudden or on-going.
This is often our tendency. We’re on the altar doing fine, living for Christ and dying to self. Then, someone says something, does something, creates a circumstance that we don’t like, or we feel misunderstood or disrespected. So, we crawl off the altar and demand that the other person take our place on our altar and die. “No! What you said, what you did, was wrong. I’m not dying for that because that is not fair at all. If I stay on the altar and die it could look like I’m okay with this or you are right and I am so not good with either.”
So we stand there with our hands on our hips or our fist in the air (if not physically, then in our hearts) and won’t budge until the other person agrees to get on the altar and die. But no matter their choice, we sure as heck aren’t getting back on the altar for this person.
Here’s the broader issue we can miss: Regardless of why we got off the altar, we are off the altar, not just in this situation, but in any and all situations until we choose to get back on.
So, let’s say something happens first thing in the morning before you leave the house, you crawl off the altar, and stand up for your “rights.” No resolve so you go on to work or school or the grocery store or wherever you go. Guess what? You’re going through your day “off the altar.” Not dying, so not really living either—in Christ. So who is going to die that day? The short answer: Everyone and anyone but you.
Satan wants at all costs to keep believers off the altar where they will live as the most effective witnesses. There are millions of circumstances where he got someone to get off over a circumstance where the person got hurt and then decided, “I’ll never get back on there because I just can’t die again. I cannot get hurt and I have to protect myself.” This decision means in this person’s life everyone else must die because they have decided they can’t and won’t.
The Christian narcissist is the person who has decided the life of a living sacrifice is right for everyone else but them.
So how do you insure you won’t become this person?
So brothers and sisters, since God has shown us great mercy, I beg you to offer your lives as a living sacrifice to him. Your offering must be only for God and pleasing to him, which is the spiritual way for you to worship. Do not be shaped by this world; instead be changed within by a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to decide what God wants for you; you will know what is good and pleasing to him and what is perfect. Because God has given me a special gift, I have something to say to everyone among you. Do not think you are better than you are. —Romans 12:1-3 NCV