Sacrifice. This is a word that we throw around a lot in the Church, particularly as we get closer to Easter. I share with you below a very perceptive article I read from the Good Weekend a few months ago.
This quaint little story holds within it a very important truth. As much as we like to think of ourselves as sacrificial, as it seems like the most noble thing to do, we do need to ask ourselves ‘Why am I sacrificing my time, my money, my very self in this way?’. Is it out of love? Or is it out of desire to be recognised and praised for being good? If our motive is the latter, then we need to consider whether our ‘sacrifices’ are really all that selfless after all. I know that there are things in my own life that I give energy to because I just love doing them, and then there are those other things that I think I am doing for others that leave me sighing with a puff of resentment. I am pretty sure that when we are encouraged to be sacrificial like Christ was, this is not meant to lead us towards growing a heart of stone.
I find myself captivated by Jesus who was willing to die on the Cross to show us that God does not abandon us, whether we are the perpetrators or the victims of violence. God is right there in middle of our darkness, our sin, and knows our suffering at every level. He does not show any hate towards us, or expect us to just pick ourselves up and carry on. He ever so gently forgives us in our weakness and shows us how to forgive others and ourselves. What amazes me is that when he was resurrected and returned to the disciples, he did not say to them, ‘Do you see what I did for you on the Cross. I died for you. I suffered for you. You owe me everything’. No, Jesus did not return to his friends with a sigh of resentment, he simply said to them, ‘Peace be with you’.
The story of Christ’s death and resurrection reveals to us that Jesus did not see his dying on the Cross as some mechanical act that he had to perform to satisfy God’s wrath. He was willing to die on the Cross because he desperately wanted us to know that we are loved, not so that we would love him, or so that God would love him. This is what sacrifice really looks like. It is when do something for another because we want to, not because we think we should. It is when we give all of who we are without wanting anything in return. This is impossible for humans to do in their own strength. True sacrifice can only happen when we allow God’s divine love to work through us.
As we travel towards Holy Week, may we all realise that following in Christ’s footsteps is not simply about copying him, and his sacrificial love, but, rather, allowing him to come and live in us so that we can radiate this love to those around us.To Home