Christi shared this verse during devotions with the artisans on Wednesday. We even did an exercise to help us memorize it...in Ikenyrwanda. Let's just say that it was not a successful exercise for a native English speaker, such as myself. The artisans, however, did a great job and proved that their memories are sharp!
The most meaningful part of the devotion was when the artisans began to share how they can be a "fragrant offering and sacrifice" to God. As some of the women began to share, I was reminded of several Spiritual Formation sessions we had at Eastern about culture clashing with Christianity.
A woman shared that one way we could offer sacrifices to God is sacrificing what our culture says is acceptable for what we know is acceptable in God's eyes. She shared that when someone in her family is sick, or even herself, and they had been to the doctor and not gotten better, that her friends or neighbors would tell her to take them to the witch doctor.
This is just the kind of conflict we had discussed time and time again in our Spiritual Formation sessions. I had prepared for this discord to show its nasty face.
But what I had not prepared for is this woman's response to the conflict. She basically said that when we choose Christ's way over our culture, we are offering a sacrifice. We may be talked about by our neighbors or criticized by other family members for going against the "norm", but God will recognize our faithfulness as a fragrant offering.
I began to think about how many places in my life where my culture clashes with Christ. There are so many times when I have let culture win, and it wasn't even as serious as someone being sick. So if I could sum up what I learned from this beautiful, wise artisan, it is this:
Choosing Christ's truth over the cultural norm is honored by my Father as a fragrant offering.
Simple as that. Yet, not so simple at all.