NASHVILLE (BP) -- World missions veteran Nik Ripken wants the church to rethink sacrifice.
"Sacrifice in the Western context is negative where it should be one of positive joy," said Ripken, a 30-year missionary and one of the world's leading experts on the persecuted church. "It expresses one's faith for today while building one's soul to serve more powerfully tomorrow."
Ripken believes this kind of joy has a role to play not just for missionaries and those living in persecuted areas, but in the day-to-day life of every Christ follower. It is through this conviction that Ripken is releasing his newest book, The Insanity of Sacrifice, with B&H Publishing to help ignite conversations about Christian sacrifice around the kitchen table.
"The center for worship and witness in our world is homes," Ripken said about his new 90-day devotional written with Barry Stricker. "We wrote The Insanity of Sacrifice praying that families will share truths from the Bible and Christ's stories around the table as they share meals with family, friends and their neighbors."
The Insanity of Sacrifice follows on the heels of Ripken's two books, "The Insanity of God" and "The Insanity of Obedience," and "The Insanity of God Movie" -- resources that have collectively influenced more than 200,000 people.
While his prior books and movie told the stories of believers living amidst persecution and gave a voice to saints living in obscurity who would otherwise be forgotten by the world, Ripken said this time around, he wanted to focus on inviting readers into the story of sacrifice.
"The reader is not allowed to remain a spectator but is personally ushered into the presence of God and challenged with the cost of following Jesus," Ripken said. "It's a dangerous book as it demands we risk everything for the joy of carrying our crosses as we follow Jesus."
Ripken admits labeling God's call to Christians "insane" can be controversial. But insanity is a word, he says, that encapsulates a way of living that makes absolutely no sense to the world and describes the holiness God.
"God's ways are so unusual that, by human standards, they are considered outside of the boundaries of what would be called 'sane,'" Ripken writes in The Insanity of Sacrifice. "He is forever reminding us that He is different -- and that His ways are different."
By embracing a life marked by sacrifice, Ripken says Christians can fully live out their calling by allowing their declarations of faith to match their body language in a way that's noticeable to the world.
"Believers in persecution often say to us, 'Never have we felt so close to Jesus as when our faith was costing us something,'" he said. "Sacrifice is a joy when it is framed by eternity.
"Hopefully this book will lead people to sacrifice their time, because they love Jesus, and therefore cross the street and cross oceans with the good news of Jesus Christ."
Aaron Wilson is a writer for LifeWay Christian Resources.