Wednesday, October 16, 2013

This week's lesson: sacrifice

I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird in the mountains, and the insects in the fields are mine. If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it. Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats? (Psalm 50:9-13, NIV)
Most gods work like a vending machine.

Not the God of Israel.

Yes, most gods make you pay for what you get – an attitude embodied in the Latin phrase, "DEO ET DES" (i.e. "I give so that you might give").
  • Want a good grade on tomorrow's exam? Then you need to offer some flowers to the god of wisdom.
  • Need a sunny day for tomorrow picnic? Better light a candle for the god of weather.
  • Starting a new business? Drop a twenty in the offering plate, promise you'll pay tithe, make a big pledge to the church's building fund . . . 
And you'll discover that you can't buy God's help – not at any price.

You see, God doesn't need anything from us: not our money, not our time, not Special K loaf we brought to the last church potluck. 

What's more, God doesn't get anything from us that didn't come from Him -- and that includes our money and time (though I'm not entirely sure He's responsible for the Special K loaf).

Finally, anything we give back to God is infinitely outweighed by the gift He's already given us: the gift of Himself through Jesus Christ. 

In short, God takes this whole idea of sacrifice, and turns it upside-down.

He's not a vending machine, in other words.

No, He's a loving Father – a loving Father with a pocketful of quarters . . .

And He'd love to spend them on us.

1 comment:

Pastor Greg said...

If Jesus is a sacrifice, then the obvious question is the nature of this sacrifice, i.e. is propitiation or expiation; does it pay the price for our sin, or demonstrate God's love.

The fact that both models have been around for a thousand years suggests there's something to be said for them both; it also suggests that you're not likely to settle this question in your class this week!

My suggestion: focus on the "who" of the sacrifice, more than on the "what." If you believe in the Trinity, after all, then you believe that God sacrificed Himself at the cross -- and what's more, He did it for us.