Friday, April 10, 2009

3 Forms of Sacrifice: Wrong, Right & Saving

I can recall feeling this very feeling before. It’s not nice. Yet I know I’ll feel it again. It involves sacrifice, but the wrong kind. There are two others that are much better to consider. But, firstly, what is the wrong kind of sacrifice?

The Wrong Sacrifice

Waking up on Good Friday thinking, ‘I’ve hardly thought about the sacrifices Jesus has made in the lead-up to Easter’ is a harrowing thought for me; in many respects I have thought about it and him, but I’m mindful that there’s a gap in my heart. We’re also so apt at sacrificing in works what we don’t back up in the foundational faith behind it.

King David, after sinning with Bathsheba, realised that sacrifice without love for God was meaningless and plain wrong:

“You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings”
–Psalm 51:16 (TNIV)

We forget all too often that God doesn’t require or even want the humanist-motivated or legalist sacrifices, even... especially, when they’re for him. Many of us who minister in his name are often fooled--and God knows it to be our fallen nature; we forget to honestly acknowledge him as he himself requires.

The Right Sacrifice

The gap in my heart mentioned above can be assuaged, pointing not only to a better sacrifice, but also to the saving sacrifice.

King David realised the fundamental principle involved in Godly sacrifice:

“My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise”
–Psalm 51:17 (TNIV)

God crumbles toward us as we crumble towards him. He loves the oppressed and hurt heart, and can finally, at once, administer his perfect healing grace. When we draw close to God, he draws close to us (James 4:8).

“To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice”
–Proverbs 21:3 (TNIV)

First things need to come first.

Etched all through the Bible is the key theme of right sacrifice--to acknowledge and fear God, who then provides the impetus to good faith, which then propels us (with eyes, ears and hearts attuned and open) to good works. The order cannot and must not change.

The Saving Sacrifice

Jesus. One name, one act. At Easter time, as with Christmas, it’s all too easy to forget the amazing sacrifice of love Jesus made for each one of us, personally. He died a shameful, excruciating death ending a perfect life, and paradoxically, the messianic plan was fulfilled, to the salvation of all humankind in Creation.

“In a loud voice they[1] were saying: ‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!’”
–Revelation 5:12 (TNIV)
Amen to that!
Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

[1] Revelation 5:11 (TNIV) refers to ‘they’ as “many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand.”

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