SACRIFICE- now here’s a word that imparts a feeling of dread and drudgery, and well it should. How many times in our daily lives we are called to sacrifice our time, energy, talents and money for others. Most often it is for our family members, but frequently it may be for neighbors, friends or even total strangers. The question is ‘why do we do that?’. One might answer in various ways—sense of duty, sympathy, empathy (do unto others….). Regardless of the exact reason or attitude, sacrifice is always done because of one basic value and that is love.
Love is the eternal joy of acceptance we experience in knowing we have helped someone in need, whatever that need may be. We all, in one way or another, tend to be sacrificial in our attitude toward others—some of us more readily willing than others. I seems from a psychological standpoint that the easier life has been for us the less urgency we feel to sacrifice for others. Some might consider that to be selfish and, indeed, many times it might be. However, I suspect that more often it is due to lack of awareness—if you haven’t experienced it, you may not appreciate it. So I suppose we could say that difficulties in life can be chastening.
So what’s my point—don’t allow yourself to get caught in the trap of judgmentalism. Just because a person may seem to you to be insensitive, it may not be the case at all. Just because you as a specific individual may think of yourself as being extremely self-sacrificing, never allow yourself to be critical of other’s seeming disregard. Remember, all of your sacrificial activity carries with it a trail of selfishness—you get sense of self-satisfaction. Be careful not to let yourself be perceived as a do-gooder or, worse yet, holier than thou.
In the universe of religion, I have observed two basic forms of sacrifice. The Catholics and their ‘near mimickers’, through their priests, offer sacrifice directly to God just as the Jewish High Priest did. That sacrifice, of course is intended to appease God and cause him to think more kindly of us—we become more holy and hopefully more likely to attain heaven. The non-sacrificial Christians seem to think of their sacrificial good works as storing up Brownie points so they will get a higher place in heaven. Does selfishness get any worse than to take it right to heaven?
Of course, all of that thinking is reasonable because of the way we all have been indoctrinated. We all have been taught to think of heaven as a place—in reality, a new Paradise where we will all be happy running around laughing and talking—greeting aunt Susie and uncle Joe—might even run into grandpa. There’s one thing for certain though—those who just barely make it through the gate will be so far away from God as to get only an occasional glimpse of him—maybe once a month.
Now we all know its been almost two thousand years since Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice. He was suppose to come right back and set up this utopian paradise immediately after ascending into heaven—he had to get cleaned up first. At least that’s what the know-it-all Paul told us—and he got his information directly from God—not sure exactly how. If we can believe anything in the Bible, that’s what he said. He scolded people for leading ordinary lives getting married, working, having kids etc. He told them they were wasting their time. He told them to ‘put on a holy face’ and get ready for Jesus—he was coming back, maybe tomorrow.
Its quite obvious that someone got their wires crossed terribly bad. Now here’s what I think happened. After Jesus’ death, there was mass confusion about who he was, what he represented, why he died and what was to happen next. At the very least, he was recognized as the Messiah. Since the Jews had always expected the Messiah to restore Paradise, they had to make it happen in their minds. They knew Jesus was dead—they saw it happen. So what then? What happened to the Savior? Were they wrong in their recognition?—he had to be the one.
In order to make their wishes come true, Jesus had to rise from the dead and ascend into heaven and then ‘come back’ to restore the Kingdom. The “talk on the street’ was so florid and self-convincing that it instantly became ‘fact’. Paul couldn’t understand why those Jews were willing to sacrifice themselves to his torment. So, he inquired why they were willing to accept such aggravation. Their explanation was so convincing that Paul had a hysterical fit—it scared the wits out of him. Hence his explanation of how he came by his information—he didn’t know whether he was ‘in the body or out of the body’. I believe he was simply terrified to think that he had been tormenting God himself—-couldn’t get no scarier than that—tormenting God?
My take is simply that ‘its all wrong’. My God is Perfect Rationality. He/she/it exists in eternity. Eternity is a state if being where there can be no change (time). God, being perfect, cannot possibly be pleased or hurt—allowing such would expose an imperfection. Jesus was the ‘only’ sacrifice of consequence. Jesus was genius—he saw the universal evil of selfishness—he recognized that the Spirit of God was in everything including him—he saw that in order for God to show his ‘perfect love’ to the world, he, Jesus must die in atonement for all the evil in the universe. He did so graciously but not without great fear and anguish—I can’t imagine such. God is heaven. We and everything in existence are in God and of God.
Just think on this please—if we could experience ‘pleasure’ at seeing aunt Susie, we couldn’t possibly be in heaven because pleasure means change and change means time—there is no time in eternity. Heaven is a state of ‘Perfect Happiness’ with no ‘human element’ of emotional change possible.
So back to ‘sacrifice” We sacrifice out of love—love of self, love of neighbor , and love of God—the absolute only command Jesus gave us. And Jesus Gave us God’s Prefect Love which means it is impossible for God to ‘dislike’ any one of us or anything.
I sincerely wish you each would read my little books Wilderness Cry and Peace in Spirituality. Your eyes would be opened to a new world. I know that many of you have read and I am grateful for your sake. For those who have not I’m attaching a Press Release and video trailer for each.