True Sacrifice (Part 1)

If you could boil Christianity down to a single action that encompasses everything a Christian should do, it would have to be sacrifice. Here on Earth, our life is meant to serve God and to serve others. We’re supposed to emulate Christ, sacrificing for others like He sacrificed for us. But what does sacrifice truly look like? I think that in our modern-day American Christianity we’ve really forgotten what it means to sacrifice. We’ve become too used to our cushy lifestyles, we’ve lived too long with having everything we need (even if we don’t have everything we want). To us, sacrifice looks like giving up an extra hour during the week to go to a midweek service or giving our tithe or holding our tongue (or even our hands) when all we want to do is lash out. And while these are all important things to do, they’re not really all too much of a sacrifice. At this point, you may be wondering, “Well, Kyle, if that stuff doesn’t count as a sacrifice, what does?” And if you’re asking that, I’m really glad, because it means that this post was worth writing for you. So to answer your question, let’s take it back to the basics and look at some examples of true sacrifice from the Bible.

First, let’s take a look at the very first sacrifice recorded in Scripture. If you don’t already know, the first sacrifice we hear of comes from the recounting of the tale of Cain and Abel in Genesis 4:3-5. It reads, “In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord has regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell” (ESV). So here we see two kinds of sacrifices: one that God approves of, and one that he doesn’t. So what’s the difference? Why does God appreciate Abel’s offering more so than Cain’s? Is God just like the rest of us and prefers meat over pretty much anything else? Well, there are plenty of other Scriptural references of God accepting crops as worthy sacrifices, so that isn’t the issue. So what was the key difference between them? The Bible tells us that Cain brought “an offering of the fruit of the ground,” and that Abel brought “the firsborn of his flock and of their fat portions.” Did you catch it? The difference is right there: Abel brought the firstborn; Cain did not. But why does that matter? Why would God care if you sacrifice what comes first or what comes later, so long as you actually offer up to God what He deserves? Because one of the things that makes a sacrifice a sacrifice is that it is an act of trust. When you give up what comes first, you aren’t garuanteed what comes next. If you get paid and immediately set aside your tithe from it, that money won’t be there if you end up needing it later to buy that new gadget or fix your car or pay for a doctor’s visit or anything else.  It’s gone, handed over to God. And if you sacrifice some of your precious sleep to get up early and read your Bible and pray every morning, you can’t get that back either. But if your “sacrifice” doesn’t require you to put your trust in God, how much of a sacrifice is it?
Thus concludes part one of this two part post. Look for the next part next Sunday, where we’ll take a look at a couple of other examples of Biblical sacrifice and come up with some ways we can change how we look at sacrifice and how it affects our relationship with God.

Follow Through

It’s been two and a half months since my last blog post. I have seven different posts currently in the draft phase that I’ve at least put some thought into, but none of them have gotten finished. It’s not that I don’t have the time. I mean, I am busy, but not so much so that I couldn’t put an hour or two into writing pretty much every day if I felt like it. But that’s exactly it: I haven’t felt like it. I want to write. I absolutely love writing. I wish I did it every day. I want to write things that resonate with people, make them think, make them feel, make them look at the world around them a little differently. And I have a lot of ideas floating around in my head that could potentially change a lot of lives. But none of that matters if I don’t actually doanything about it. It doesn’t matter if I have all the time and creativity in the world at my disposal if I don’t sit down and actually write something out about it. And even if I do sit down and write, if I don’t finish the thought, it will never go any farther than a few sentences on the screen in front of me. Instead, I spend my free time watching shows, playing video games, and scrolling through my various social media feeds. And it’s not that any of those things are inherently bad – or even detrimental to productivity. You can’t be efficient if you’re always being productive. You need to have down time where you aren’t doing anything other than recharging. But having the capability to work with 100% efficiency means nothing if the work being done is zero. So I’m reorienting a bit. I’m placing less of an emphasis on the things that are less important, and a bigger emphasis on the things that are more important. Or at least I’m trying to. I’m still going to fail, I’m still going to spend too much time on things that didn’t earn it, but I’m moving in the right direction. I’m trying to be a little less of a procastinator and to be a little more proactive. I’m going to follow through on what I’ve started.

So now that this is out of the way, I’m going to start working on my next post, which you’re going to see on Sunday. Because that’s when I’ll be posting for the foreseeable future, every week. And if you’re looking forward to these posts, please bug me about it. The best motivation to continue writing is to know that people actually want to read it. I started this blog mostly for me, but it’s about you too. So pester me with comments if you need to, ask me my thoughts about different things, and together we’ll figure out how to stop hiding behind the blurs and just be truthful about what’s going on around us.