0206. Recognizing Sacrifice

Have you noticed recently when watching a celebrity or athlete perform, the commentators tend to mention the sacrifice the individual made to get to this point in their career? They worked multiple jobs or practiced 15 hours a day to achieve their dreams. While the effort is not in question, to use the term sacrifice in this context is probably not the correct terminology. Yes, they gave up certain personal activities and relationships normal individuals typically enjoy. However, they gained fame, money, and influence in the process. So is it really a sacrifice or just a trade?

Let’s examine the role of a soldier. They serve their country and follow orders of their commanding officers. In times of war, they put their lives on the line. For what though? Is it for fame, money, or influence? No, they put the good of their country ahead of their own needs, and receive nothing in return (except a paycheck). If they are seriously injured or killed in combat, they will never experience the type of lives that they fought to protect. And while we may judge the militaries and the wars they fight as good or bad, right or wrong, you will find that it is the soldiers that make the true sacrifices being on the front lines.

When Adam and Eve were deceived by the serpent and disobeyed God’s command in the book of Genesis, they created an unreachable chasm between humankind and God. You see, when Lucifer and one-third of the angels in heaven rebelled against God, he threw them out and condemned them. This is God’s judgment for disobedience. Since God does not break his word, then logic dictates that humankind must also be condemned in the same manner for our disobedience. Nothing we can say or do can ever change that. However, that is not to say that God did not reveal an alternative plan for the redemption of humanity.

God’s plan for the redemption of humankind would be realized through Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3 (CSB): “The Lord said to Abram: Go from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, I will curse anyone who treats you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” This is known as the Abrahamic covenant. A covenant is somewhat different from a contract. If you entered a contract to buy a home, you would be signing a document saying that you would pay a certain amount of money to another party, and in return you would receive a home to live in or rent out. Therefore, the two parties are offering different things to fulfill the contract. However, in a covenant, both parties agree to provide the same terms to one another. In our example, both parties would be exchanging their houses, rather than money for a house.

So how does this fit into our article on sacrifice? In Genesis 22:1-18, God asks Abraham to take Isaac up to Mount Moriah and sacrifice him. This seemed to be an odd way to fulfill a covenant, especially since one needs heirs to become a nation. However, Abraham willingly obeys God, and is just about to slaughter his son when God moves in and stops him and praises him for his unquestioning obedience. A goat is sacrificed in place of Isaac, and the covenant is sealed. Now, according to covenant law, if Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son, then God must also be willing to sacrifice his own son. And years later, God would fulfill his part of the covenant by sending his son Jesus down from Heaven to earth to be that sacrifice.

Think about all the idolatry and other religions in this world over human history. They all have one thing in common. It involves us to sacrifice to them. We must sacrifice our money, our time, and our ethics in the hopes of power, influence or short-term happiness. We can observe this type of worship quite often in our culture today. In this way, Christianity is the most illogical religion out there, for it is the only one where God sacrifices for us. John 3:16 (CSB) sums this concept up: “For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” It is truly a sacrifice, for God gains nothing from it, but we reap all the benefits. It is something that man could not achieve alone simply by acts of service, for we couldn’t cross the chasm even if we wanted to. Only the blood of Jesus could build a bridge that every one of us can choose to cross and feel the gift of grace.

The celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ on Christmas Day is a recognition of true sacrifice. Not from us, but for us. As we open presents and spend time with loved ones this season, ponder the sacrifice that one child born in Bethlehem 2000 years ago gives us each and every day.

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