By Ryan Shaw
Ryan is the international lead facilitator of Student Volunteer Movement 2 (SVM2) and currently lives among the unreached.
Hudson Taylor, the famous message bearer to China, once commented, “It is possible to sing ‘My all is on the altar’ and yet be unwilling to sacrifice a ring from ones’ finger, or a picture from one’s wall, or a child from ones’ family, for the salvation of the unreached.”
Dr. Samuel Zwemer, the famous message bearer to Muslims, emphatically declared, “When the door opens we ought to press in, sacrificing our lives if need be for God, as the Muslims did at Khartoum for their prophet…Of course it costs life. It is not an expedition of ease nor a picnic excursion to which we are called. It is going to cost many a life, and not lives only, but prayers and tears and blood.”
The Sacrificial Component of Being “Expendable”
As an “expendable” for Christ we are not merely speaking of the sacrifice of giving our lives, though this is a very real potential. I heard just last week of a group of ten message bearers serving in Afghanistan who were gunned down by the Taliban because they were “preaching Christianity.”
The potential of sacrificing our very lives in the work of global harvest is there and it is important that we be a people reconciled to this reality.
Yet, there are other forms of sacrifice we also are to be reconciled to before the Lord as His “expendables”: potential loss of certain comforts, conveniences, relationships we’ve relied on, our home cultures’ ways of doing things or that which provides us with identity and place in the world.
“Expendables” say no to the power of the self-life which so easily governs the lives of believers while surrendering to the will of God and to the leading of His still small voice. “Expendables” embrace hardship and adversity, seeking God’s perspective in these circumstances. “Expendables” hold the glory of God being shown through their lives as the highest possible priority for them.
The Lordship Component of Being “Expendable”
An “expendable” for Christ makes a decision of the heart which is usually a subsequent decision to initially taking Jesus as Savior. It refers to a Lordship committal.
A recognition that a believer no longer has any rights to themselves, to decide for their own future, to go where they please and to do what they choose, but that they now belong wholly to Jesus Himself and are at His disposal as a bond-slave and servant, bought by His matchless blood.
They say with a willing heart, “My life I give you, Lord, eagerly and sincerely.” They are motivated by the clarity of Jesus’ expressed will and purpose found throughout the gospels and New Testament to live a life of wholehearted surrender to Him as Lord, by His call to spiritual action born as a result of such a lifestyle of surrender, and by the urgency of the serious hour in which we live.
That hour suggests that now is the time which demands the highest levels of spiritual discipleship, yet much of the church is asleep to this fact.
The Commitments of the “Expendable” Lifestyle
Several key commitments surrounding an “expendable” lifestyle have been identified.
- First, there is a commitment to living a life of submission and yielding to the person of the Holy Spirit. He is the only sustaining power to faithfully grow in the life of true discipleship. We have been called to the abiding lifestyle in Christ as detailed in John 15 and this is the only pathway to developing abandoned devotion. As a result we commit ourselves faithfully to a disciplined daily devotional life of intimate worship, intercessory prayer, Bible study and devotional reading (books that stimulate the spiritual life).
- Second, there is a commitment to growing in personal character. As a result, we give ourselves to holy living, self-denial and self-discipline in order to be pleasing to the Father and become more and more like Christ Jesus our King.
- Third, there is a commitment to winning the lost to faith in Christ. As a result we seek every opportunity to witness of the power of Christ to save and we seek to lead people to Christ as opportunities arise.
- Fourth, there is a commitment which recognizes that such a lifestyle requires nothing less than absolute consecration to Christ. As a result we present our bodies as living sacrifices, utterly abandoned to Christ. In so doing, we will that God’s perfect will find complete expression in our lives. Through all of these commitments we offer ourselves in all humility to be “expendable” for Christ.
The ways of Jesus’ kingdom are amazing to me. As we look in the natural on this call to the “expendable” lifestyle we can be gripped with dread and a sense of not wanting anything to do with such a lifestyle. This is normal self-preservation.
Yet, as we grow in Christ the Holy Spirit presses these truths to our hearts in such a way as to make purposefully pursuing them very attractive. This is because such a life is the very life that Jesus Himself emulated. He did not find ultimate fulfillment in pursuing a certain form of worldly success while on earth. Instead He found inner satisfaction (happiness, peace, joy and more) only in doing the will of His Father.
Those who truly trust in the Lord for their lives are happy, satisfied and ultimately deeply content people. Their lives may appear hard and yet the Lord Himself helps them, sustains them, is interceding for them, upholds them because they have put His Kingdom purposes before their own and like Jesus have dedicated themselves to only doing the will of the Father.
God is looking today for those who are willing to risk all for the sake of walking by faith in Christ and being used as His hands and feet in a desperate and spiritually dark world. Will you commit yourself to be an “expendable” for Christ in today’s generation?
I encourage you to tell someone about this commitment you have made. Get accountability to go after this lifestyle and to encourage you when the going gets tough – as it will. If you’ve been impacted by this article, you are encouraged to forward it on to your ministries and friends. Let’s together seek to raise the standard of the calling of Jesus to give ourselves wholeheartedly to the global purpose of God.