Friday, 23 March 2012

The Extinction Of Sacrifice

I live in the One-Third World. Growing up, I heard constant references to the plight of the poor folk in the Third World. I've since discovered that these poor folk in the Third World actually make up two-thirds of the world's population and that poor here doesn't mean what poor means there. But not only do I live in the One-Third World, I also live at a time of unprecedented peace and prosperity. As one commentator on contemporary Western Culture described where and when we live by saying- Every day we wake up in Disney Land! With such affluenza all around us, the idea of sacrifice sounds...well...extinct.

Yet, it is because of someone's sacrifice, that I and others in Western Society enjoy (read: take for granted) what we have today. These sacrificing, enterprising, often pioneering individuals have frequently been labelled the 'Builder' Generation. They worked hard. They sacrificed. They endured hardship. They fought wars that had to be fought. They built what had to be built. They started what needed to be started. 

For many of these sacrificial souls, their sacrifice was barely regarded by them as a sacrifice. Rather, they saw it as their responsibility. Sacrifice and responsibility. Somber words. Hardly fitting in today's Western cultural landscape where fun, fashion, and facebook-friends are the key words. But this generation of sacrificers where motivated by a Grand Vision. They saw a Responsible Sacrificing Saviour who carried the weight of the world and sacrificed for the sake of the world so that Someone else would benefit. We now live in a world, the One-Third World, where this Grand Vision is not visible to most. And where the Grand Vision is invisible there is an Impostor Vision that takes its place.

Rom. 12:1 ¶ I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

The early Christians were noted for their many sacrifices of love toward each other, the poor, and the outcasts - especially lepers. Down through the centuries, many believers have been gripped by the Grand Vision of the Saviour-Sacrifice and given up houses, positions, wealth, and reputation, to serve others. Sacrifice for the sake of others is a particularly Christian trait.

Eph. 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Believing on Christ today requires no less sacrifice. But believing on Christ in Disneyland takes some effort. Living in the One-Third World dupes you into thinking that you are entitled to more than you've already got. It kids you into thinking that if you do the least, give the minimum, turn up occasionally, then you already "sacrificing". I know. I battle with all of this. Yet my battle is being won by my devotion to the Sacrificed Saviour. He is increasingly becoming my Grand Vision. I see Him giving His all. I hear Him say that no man has left job, house, lands, families, that he should be repaid many times over in the life to come. This puts my meagre volunteer efforts into a totally different perspective.

Heb. 13:15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.

 The first believers got it. They did voluntarily give their all. These apostolic volunteers served Christ without any of the trappings of the One-Third World. They not only faced uncertain futures they looked forward to a certain future. Their sacrifices for the Sacrificed One were counted as a nothing compared to what they had received.  They gave, did, went, and stood without so much as a time-card to show for it. They took seriously their responsibility to know Christ and to make Him known. And the world has been the beneficiary - not just the On-Third World!

I pray that we might recapture what godly sacrifice looks like in our corner of 'Disneyland.'

Father, help me to live fully for You. Help me to pastor well. Help me to give, serve and care, with the heart and attitude of Christ. May You use me to inspire a generation to serve You in sacrificial service. Please Lord, use everyone in our church to sacrifice in a way that will bring You the most glory. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

Ps. Andrew Corbett
Legana, Tasmania, 23rd March 2012

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