30th August 2020

The Holy Communion service finishes with a “sending out”, and it is a sending out with purpose. God’s people are sent out into the world to serve God in joyful obedience. In the concluding prayers we offer ourselves to God as a “living sacrifice”; we ask him to help us to do the good works he has prepared for us; we ask for help to live to God’s praise and glory. These prayers reflect the truth that every Christian has undergone a radical change.

No-one who has truly come to know the Lord Jesus Christ can be unchanged. Jesus changes people. His invitation to follow him is a call to “repent” (Mark 1:15), to change my mind about God and to turn back to God in my heart and in my ways. Through Christ, God has re-created us, to do the good works that he prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). God is at work transforming us into his image with ever-increasing glory (2 Cor. 3:18).

This is why Christians live upright lives according to God’s law. It is because Jesus has changed us. The stereotypical person who grudgingly tries to do God’s will, so that they can get to heaven, is not a Christian. I have never once met a Christian like that. Yet Christians do make radical and costly changes to their lives in order to follow Christ. They do so joyfully. They are changed, but not reluctantly or grudgingly.

The moral transformation that happens to Christians is well explained by Paul: “The grace of God … teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” (Titus 2:11-12). Our motivation for change is not fear but the grace of God.

All of this means that we are quite serious when, in the closing prayers, we offer ourselves to God as a “living sacrifice”. Since we have been bought with the blood of Christ, we are not our own anymore. Our lives and our obedience belong to God. Has Jesus changed you?