Consecration. It’s a funny old word. To the uninitiated it sounds very ancient—other worldly—and very holier-than-thou churchy. So what, if anything, does consecration mean for us as 21st century salvationists? Is it just another exclusive paradigm only for the truly holy?
Recently, I was relaying to someone the experience I had at Encounter Congress, whereby I felt compelled by the Holy Spirit to re-consecrate myself to God’s service as an officer. It was a timely, necessary and sacred moment. Something shifted within me as I considered the second half of my life and the ministry that beckons.
However, when asked to explain the meaning of consecration, I struggled to answer succinctly. Which was ironic, given that something so transformative had taken place within me. I found it hard to communicate a definition of consecration that made sense and didn’t just sound—well—other worldly and holier-than-thou churchy, to this person so unfamiliar with the faith tradition and its quirky ways. And yet the ability to testify to an experience of consecration had been so easy.
With the ordination and commissioning of new officers upon us—for whom consecration to God and his service is a key facet—I suspect some family and friends may also require some explanation.
So, I offer this ‘user’s guide to consecration’ as an introduction—albeit a refresher for others.
In a nutshell, to ‘consecrate’ yourself means to set yourself apart from other pursuits and fully dedicate yourself to God. Which sounds straightforward—but that’s not the full story. God has a crucial role to play in calling us to consecration. In fact, the ability to consecrate yourself to God is only made possible by God. He does the consecrating once we respond to his call and decide to be consecrated. And this decision must be wholehearted—no one can push you into being consecrated, it simply doesn’t work that way. God doesn’t work that way.
So, perhaps the more important questions are not, ‘What does consecration mean?’, but, ‘Why would anyone want to be consecrated? What’s the purpose of consecration?’
Consecration determines the nature of our relationship with God. And God is holy. So he gently begins the process of transforming us into his likeness so we can enjoy the fullness of relationship with him. The decision to consecrate yourself to God says, ‘Lord I give all of me to you. I trust you with my life. Have your way. Make me holy because I fall so short of your glory. I won’t get it right most of the time. But I know how much I need you. Lead me.’
But consecration is not a single, one-time-only decision. It is a way of living in Christ. God does not require perfection—he simply desires that we continue to follow him, even though we stumble. And officers are certainly not immune from such stumbling. Thankfully, all believers who choose to consecrate themselves are also privileged to come under God’s wonderful grace—grace that responds to our sincere repentance, by cleansing our sin and calling us forward again into holiness.
This is the consecrated life. And it’s open to anyone—cadets becoming officers, new believers growing into disciples—the priesthood of all believers—generations of salvationists deciding again, and again to dedicate their life to God—Hallelujah!