Pastor’s viewpoint: Nov. 17, 2018

Published 4:17 pm Monday, November 19, 2018

I was a medical chemist before God called me into the ministry; I can tell you all about the human body and how it works. For a final test in one class, we were asked to take a bit of food, and draw and name all the chemical reactions as it passed through and out of the body. I adapted a lipoprotein electrophoresis test for use in a hospital lab and created a procedure to remove platelets from a person’s blood, then give the blood back to the person who donated it and give the platelets to a patient. The patient was 12 years old with leukemia …
But I can’t tell you why one person loves another person or why anyone would sacrifice his or her own comfort to help another person? Or why someone would give money or blood or anything else to help someone else without expecting anything in return? Or go far beyond what was expected to help someone even if they were paid or did get something in return? I can’t explain the “why” of a “living sacrifice!”
We had a visitor a couple of weeks ago; he was not nice and destroyed so much of what we take for granted all around us. His name was Michael and he, as I expected, brought out both the best and the worst in the people who share this planet with us. So how do we say “thank you” to those people who gave us their best and went far beyond what was expected of them and what might have been called their “duty?” Or their “job?” Paul talked about them in his letter to the Roman church …
[1] Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper worship. [2] Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12)
The pattern of this world asks, “What’s in it for me?” But “in view of God’s mercy,” faith asks, “How can I help?” In our area, several groups of young men using their own equipment helped clear the roads; one group cleaned up a huge pine tree that fell in Woodland UMC’s front yard. Another group of men traveled to Florida south of us and Seminole County west of us to feed people in storm-ravaged areas. And I heard about a lineman who went to work at 5:30 a.m., got home after midnight, and then got up at 5:30 a.m. the next morning to do it all over again. That’s what Paul is calling a “living sacrifice,” and he says it’s a form of worship!
And our response should be to thank anyone who goes the “extra mile.” Right now, after the storm is past, if you see a lineman or road worker or anyone else who went, or is still going, “the extra mile” after Hurricane Michael, say, “Thank you for your sacrifice!”

Charles “Buddy” Whatley is a retired United Methodist pastor serving Woodland & Bold Springs UMC and, with Mary Ella, a missionary to the Navajo Reservation in Arizona.