By Benjamin H. Liles
There are times where I wonder if I ever do enough to please God in all that I say and do. I mean, do I lay my life down for the neighbor that lives just below me? Do I treat her with the respect she deserves or do I render judgment on her than take up my faith as Christ requires of me? I find that often I lack the things required of me even though I know that in order to please God I ought to have faith and to love others as He first loved me by being a willing and living sacrifice. After all it is written, "Therefore I urge you, brothers, on account of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service of worship" (Romans 12:1, Berean Study).
And yet we're told, "Thus says the Lord God: 'Enough, O princes of Israel! Remove violence and plundering, execute justice and righteousness, and stop dispossessing My people...Then it shall be the prince’s part to give burnt offerings, grain offerings, and drink offerings, at the feasts, the New Moons, the Sabbaths, and at all the appointed seasons of the house of Israel. He shall prepare the sin offering, the grain offering, the burnt offering, and the peace offerings to make atonement for the house of Israel...So you shall do on the seventh day of the month for everyone who has sinned unintentionally or in ignorance. Thus you shall make atonement for the temple...He shall prepare a burnt offering to the Lord, seven bulls and seven rams without blemish, daily for seven days, and a kid of the goats daily for a sin offering" (Ezekiel 45:9, 17, 20, 23, New King James).
Considering the fact we consider ourselves dead to sin within Jesus Christ, when we're properly and fully covered by His blood on the cross, we ought to be living testimonies of His rich love toward us. For as He said to the rich young ruler, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your belongings and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me" (Matthew 19:21, Holman Christian Standard). Loving others means we're willing to do whatever it takes, regardless the cost to ourselves, to make them equal with us.
I love a simple story in Acts where this act of giving takes place. A man lame from birth sitting outside the city walls is waiting, hoping at the gate called Beautiful (see Acts 3:2) to see about receiving help. Peter responds by saying to the man, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk!" (Acts 3:6, Berean Study). Are any of us ever so bold in our witness we give the one thing we do have for the benefit and glory of the One who died in our place? I know I don't.
Lately, I've been finding I want to be a lot more like Christ in my life and in my walk. It doesn't always work in the way or manner I would like, but I do what I can when I'm directed. Still, I do fail as I'm only a man who still sins. Yet, we're told within those verses of Ezekiel, "Then it shall be the prince’s part...to make atonement for the house of Israel" (Ezekiel 45:17). And we find that Christ did this on Calvary's Cross. As a criminal He was led away, bound for the cross, my sin to take away. My sins He carried on the cross to see, a new life made possible by my risen King. So, it's my prayer for all who read these words, that Christ can be yours to make you right with God. And this is the way I define atonement: "making 'men at one' with God."
Friend, if we do all we can through the shed blood of Christ, then we can assuredly be the kind of people He died for on the cross. Just as He made us one through His death, delivering us from sin and death, to being made right with God we can therefore be at one with others with whom He calls us into contact with. It means we take deliberate and active steps and living to show the love of Jesus Christ daily. Regardless what we have or don't have we can bless others no matter with what means we have. There's a line I love from a movie about God's compassion toward us: "Acts of Random Kindness...and you will live in the ARK." If we are truly within Christ, and He abides in us, I believe we all can be one in Him, worshiping Him in love and truth. I praise this blesses and encourages you today. In the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. Amen.