“So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” Hebrews 13:12-16
I’ve read this before but reading it recently I saw what it said for the first time. At this point in my life God is teaching me more than I could begin to communicate in words on a blog post but this is a part of it…
Jesus suffered outside the city gate – rejected by the Jews and seen as unworthy of honor in their traditions; yet, he chose to come and sanctify the people through his blood. Knowing him and having received that sanctification, we follow him outside the camp… Outside of the coziness of belonging and being accepted by the world around us. Because I know Jesus I also know that I have no lasting city here on this earth but what I seek is the city that is to come (Phil. 3:20 – our citizenship is in Heaven). The implications of that one short sentence (v. 14 – in red above) are immense. God is shifting my perspective to view my life from this standpoint. Jesus said that “whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12:25) and that “if anyone come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it” (Luke 9:23-24). When a man came to Jesus and said that he would follow Him wherever he went Jesus responded that “foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Luke 9:57-58). These are HUGE statements that I have too often ignored. Following Jesus is not safe and comfortable. It means losing your life to gain it. It means denying yourself and taking up your cross daily. It means having no lasting city here on this earth and no place to call your own.
Now don’t get me wrong… Following Jesus is not something to be dreaded. It brings us life more abundantly. True life! And eventually, the city that is to come! It causes us to live a life that through Jesus we will continually offer up a sacrifice to praise God with our lips acknowledging His name. To think that we can spend our lifetimes continually offering praises to God and acknowledging His name is amazing and stunning… When it comes to praising humanity, there is only so much we can say that is true… When it comes to praising God, there will never be enough we can say to capture the truth and so saying words is not enough but we also should respond to who He is by doing good and sharing what we have – whether what we have be bread and water, a loving touch, talents, or the truth of the gospel and our relationships with the Father through Jesus… Sharing such things and doing good as we live our lives focused on the city that is to come… are sacrifices pleasing to God.