The word sacrifice brings some interesting thoughts and feelings to mind.
Some of us may think of Isaac bringing his son to the altar to offer up as a sacrifice, as requested by God. Others may think of animals being killed and offered as sacrifices to God, as found in the Old Testament. And, of course, Christ made the ultimate sacrifice.
But beyond those major forms of sacrifice and life-forfeiting, there are other types of sacrifices that have do not always result in the loss of life.
What often means the most to someone and conveys the loudest message of love, friendship, caring, and compassion is an act that in some ways entails a sacrifice of some sort. Even small, day-to-day sacrifices can have a gigantic impact on someone and their sense of worth and feeling of being loved.
Sacrifices are extremely significant in shaping history, religions and people.
One of my seminary professors always reminded us that we were three generations away from being forgotten. I find this both comforting and distressing.
The benefit to this is that we are okay if we make mistakes. We will be forgiven, and if not, then fear not, for all will be forgotten!
But then we wonder: Will what we do today make a difference for tomorrow?
We all want to leave some sort of lasting legacy in this world. The choice and decision for us is: What do we want our legacy to be? What do we want to be best known for?
Do we want to be known as a person who focused solely on our self or as one who sacrificed much for the sake of others?
When Christ willingly went to that cross, gave up his life and conquered death, this was His message to us:
You are important. Whether you will be forgotten in three generations or not is inconsequential. What matters is that you matter to me. You, and you alone, are worth me giving up my life for.
When it comes to our children, our grandchildren and the future of this world, we must ask: What should we pass down? Like the early Christians, what sacrifices are we willing to make to pass on to future generations?
What is the most important facet, aspect or tradition to focus on? What do we want future generations of Christians to know and hold dear to their hearts?
Naturally, God will have a lot to do with it, and it might be different than what we think. But that is not to say that what we do, what we say, how we think and how we live as Christians has little significance.
Our mission should be one that continually focuses on someone else in a positive way.
The same way these sacrifices are understood is very similar to God’s own presence in our lives. With the gift of the Holy Spirit, we have been given the promise and assertion that God is, in fact, always with us.
Every single encounter and moment with God will not always entail the sensational, as was the case with the story from Acts (Acts 2:1-21) with the wind blowing, the tongues speaking and the people unsure of what to attribute everything to.
However, God remains present in the ordinary, in the daily and the seemingly mundane. As much as God is a part of our life, we should try to be in the life of others, in whatever sacrificial way we know how and can express.