The Sacrament of Living, Part 2

As a continuation from my last post, The Sacrament of Living, here is more of A. W. Tozer’s thinking on that topic. After the passage I quoted last time, he explains how difficult it will be to put this truth into practice. We’ll need to change a habitual thought pattern – and we all know how hard it is to break a bad habit! But beyond that, Satan will try to stop us, as he always does when someone wants to deepen their commitment to God. (Back to the “all of life is a battleground” side of the coin!) Tozer says:

We can meet this successfully only by the exercise of an aggressive faith. We must offer all our acts to God and believe that He accepts them. Then hold firmly to that position and keep insisting that every act of every hour of the day and night be included in the transaction. Keep reminding God in our times of private prayer that we mean every act for His glory; then supplement those times by a thousand thought prayers as we go about the job of living. Let us practice the fine art of making every work a priestly ministration. Let us believe that God is in all our simple deeds and learn to find Him there.

Sounds like hard work! But somehow, the thought of it makes me want to rise to the challenge, rather than feeling overwhelmed. Maybe it’s because of the incredible results that Tozer describes in this summary at the end of the chapter:

It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, it is why he does it. The motive is everything. Let a man sanctify the Lord God in his heart and he can thereafter do no common act. All he does is good and acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For such a man, living itself will be sacramental and the whole world a sanctuary. His entire life will be a priestly ministration. As he performs his never so simple task he will hear the voice of the seraphim saying, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory.”

– A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

The Sacrament of Living

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. – 1 Corinthians 10:31 (NIV)

One of the lessons I learned as a young believer was that everything I do can be an act of worship to the Lord. But to be honest, my heart attitude had fallen back into the old sacred-secular dichotomy: feeling that certain things (like ministry or bible study) are spiritual, but anything personal (like leisure or even housekeeping) is not.

A couple of months ago, my pastor spoke on spiritual warfare, and showed how Satan can take advantage of us when we think this way, because all of life can be a battleground. Then last week I read the last chapter of A. W. Tozer’s classic, The Pursuit of God, which describes this same false division between sacred and secular. It goes on to speak of what I see as the flip side of the coin: that all of life can be a sacrament.

Let us think of a Christian believer in whose life the twin wonders of repentance and the new birth have been wrought. He is now living according to the will of God as he understands it from the written Word. Of such a one it may be said that every act of his life is or can be as truly sacred as prayer or baptism or the Lord’s Supper. To say this is not to bring all acts down to one dead level; It is rather to lift every act up into a living kingdom and turn the whole life into a sacrament.

If a sacrament is an external expression of an inward grace then we need not hesitate to accept the above thesis. By one act of consecration of our total selves to God we can make every subsequent act express that consecration.

– A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

I think what really hit home was that all my actions – all of them! – can be a sacred act, holy to the Lord. Being disciplined at duties like cleaning or doing laundry can be an outward expression of God’s grace at work within me. (That’s huge for me, because those of you who know me well know how messy my house usually is!) How I spend my leisure time can demonstrate my consecration to Christ. I haven’t been thinking like this, but I want to. I want to honor God with every action, not just the ones that I’ve thought of as “spiritual.” I want my whole life to be a sacrament.

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