Wasted

Yesterday, I had yet another phlebotomy. If the word is unfamiliar, think of donating blood. Eight years ago, I was diagnosed with a genetic disorder known as hemochromatosis, where the body absorbs too much iron. If not treated, the end result is liver failure due to cirrhosis. Before it was identified, people with hemochromatosis were often viewed as “closet” alcoholics because the effects were the same as severe alcoholism, even if there was no evidence of alcohol abuse.

The only treatment, but an effective one, is a phlebotomy. Removing a pint of blood from the body significantly reduces the iron levels in the blood. Some people with severe cases require this treatment monthly or even more frequently. Fortunately, I have a mild case where I typically have it done two to three times a year.

Considering iron-rich blood a valuable commodity, I once asked the phlebotomist what the hospital did with the blood she collected from me. “We have to throw it away,” she answered. “Because you have this disorder, we’re not allowed to use it in our blood bank.”  I was appalled. What a waste! It is a genetic disorder, not a contagious one. Years later, sadly, this is still the case. Iron-rich blood thrown away. Wasted.

My wife and I have been reading the Scriptures together nightly and last night we read Mark 15 which contains the story of the Crucifixion. Much blood was shed that day, priceless blood. How many of us waste it?

There are many churches that teach all one has to do to be saved is to say the words of a prayer, typically known as “the sinner’s prayer.” The state of the person’s heart doesn’t matter; it’s the words that matter. Many students come to campus convinced they are Christians because they have prayed this prayer (and perhaps been baptized) Nothing about their lives reveals a commitment to Jesus, but they said the prayer, so that is enough. There are so many in churches today with the same mindset and lifestyle. In such circumstances, the grace-rich blood of Jesus is wasted.

There are others who claim Jesus as Savior who wall themselves off from others for whom Jesus died. They may be of a different race, culture, social-economic status, political party, denominational affiliation, or merely an introvert or extrovert. They only want to associate with people like themselves. The blood of Jesus is wasted.

There are those who profess Jesus who view the world and those living in it through a certain lens. That lens may be shaped by their upbringing, education, or life experiences. And when that lens doesn’t comport with biblical teaching, they discard the latter in favor of the former, skewing the text to fit their vision of it. It is a waste of precious blood.

Truth be told, we have all wasted the precious blood of Jesus poured out for us. Sin does that. It is not an unforgiveable waste, but is a waste, nonetheless. I have wasted a lot of his blood during my lifetime through my behavior, attitudes, and beliefs. However, the wonderful thing about grace is that it allows us time to grow much more efficient with the blood of Jesus. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, our behaviors can change, as well as our attitudes and our beliefs. As we grow in the Lord, we become more and more the person he created us to be. In other words, we waste his precious blood less and less. 

We see this development in the early Church. In the beginning, they thought only Jews could become Christians. They walled themselves off from Gentiles (non-Jews). It wasn’t until Peter’s vision and subsequent visit to the house of Cornelius that Jewish believers began to consider the idea that the grace of God was open to a far wider audience than they had believed. Yet, there was still much resistance, as the Council of Jerusalem revealed. To their credit, however, they let the word of the Apostles shape their beliefs, attitudes, and behavior regarding Gentiles. Still, it wasn’t always smooth sailing, as evidenced by the behavior of Peter in Antioch. The Apostle Paul basically accused him of wasting the grace-rich blood of Jesus.

As noted above, it continues to be a struggle; it always has. The only way any of us stop wasting the blood of Jesus is to make our number one priority, over that of our families, careers, hobbies, status, etc. is to the pursuit of the Lord. We do that by delving into the Scriptures consistently, praying faithfully, and serving the Lord obediently. As I have said before, there are no shortcuts. We must be all in on becoming a true disciple of Jesus, not a mere convert to the Christian religion. And saying a prayer will not be enough.

I am often amazed how some pastors and Christian leaders want to make it so easy to follow Jesus, when Jesus himself portrayed it in a whole different way, not one of ease but of hardship and sacrifice. Any attempt to make following Jesus easy is a waste of the precious blood he shed. 

As I grow in the Lord, my prayer is I will become better and better at not wasting his precious blood, that my life will reflect its priceless value. It’s the least, and the best, that I can do.

© Jim Musser 2021

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