Sacrifice and Love :: Feast 016 (Part 1 of 2)
I love explaining Easter to someone who doesn’t yet understand it; namely, children. Watching kids try to wrap their brain around the Resurrection story is fascinating and fun. If you really think about it, it defies explanation. Is it good or bad that Jesus dies? Was Judas’s role evil, or just a necessary part of God’s plan? How does someone die and then become alive again? Was Jesus in a lot of pain? Questions like these are simple questions with complex answers, and it will take time and repetition to walk through them well. I love it.
However, at the core of the story of the Resurrection, what I want all of our kids – and all of us – to really see, is that the love is Jesus is revealed through self-sacrifice. In fact, it is the story of Easter that reveals this profound and simple truth: all love requires sacrifice; without sacrifice, there is no love.
Love, Hate + ___________
Let me make my case. Picture a chart with two sides with a line down the middle. On the left, is the word “Love.” So what is the opposite of love? What word goes on the right side of the line? The quick answer many people would give is “hate.” If love is a strong feeling of like, then the opposite would be a strong feeling of dislike…hate. And that is valid. But I would argue there is a second and equally valid answer as the opposite of love: apathy. If love is about actively caring for another, then apathy is not caring at all…
So, on one side: Love. On the other side: hate and apathy.
But how can hate and apathy both be valid answers? Well, it’s because they both have the same root, the same source, and the same motivation. It’s because both hate and apathy are motivated by the same thing: selfishness. The root of all hate and the root of all apathy is selfishness.
When I used to work with young drug addicts, I would often ask them this question: “Have you ever lied, cheated, stolen, or betrayed somebody you claim to love in order to feed your addiction?” Every one of them I ever asked said yes. Because the selfish motivation of their heart led their actions to be hateful or apathetic toward those around them, even if they “felt” like they loved them. An addict’s real problem behind the problem is not a chemical addiction, but an addiction to selfishness. Or, more accurately, addiction to selfishness is the problem WE ALL have…drugs just amplify the problem.
What is Love?
The root of all hate and the root of all apathy is selfishness. So what is the root of love? The answer is sacrifice. Without sacrifice, there can be no love. If you love someone or something, you will sacrifice for it in the form of money, time, energy, or service. This is why women (often) love getting flowers. It is literally saying, “I love you so much that I wasted (sacrificed) $20 on this useless thing that will die in a few days!” It’s an act of love because it’s an act of sacrifice!
Why I know This is True
The reason I am sure that sacrifice is the greatest indicator of love is that the greatest act of love ever was marked by the greatest sacrifice ever. Jesus, the perfect God-man, who had never sinned or done anything wrong, looked at you and at me and, in full knowledge of every sin we have ever done or will do, and died – sacrificed himself – for us. Not because we deserved it or earned it, but precisely because we don’t deserve it and we can’t earn it. He sacrificed everything – his divinity, his pride, his life – for you. And all of this because of his deep and never-ending love for you.
He expressed His ultimate love through ultimate sacrifice. And this sacrifice and this love are incredibly humbling. Consider the following:
“What more affirmation do we need than the cross of Jesus Christ? How insignificant is a ‘good job buddy’ compared to the fact that God, knowing the absolute truth about you and your motivations, died on the cross for you. Man can approve and accept you without any knowledge of your motives. He may never spot the shady, sinful, selfish motives that lead you to perform your good deeds. But God knows your wicked heart and still he died on the cross for you. That’s gospel truth. That’s worship material.”
From Creature of the Word by Chandler, Patterson, and Geiger.
Failing to Sacrifice Means Failing to Love
So parents, I want you to think about all that you sacrifice for your kids or have sacrificed for them over the years. It’s a long list. Up all night rocking babies, up all night worried about teenagers, working jobs you may not even like to pay for things they want or need, putting their desires above your own about food, clothing, vacation locations. You’ve given up date nights, advancements at work, that second home up north. The list can go on and on.
However, whatever you’ve sacrificed pales in comparison to what Jesus has given for you, and what he has given to your children. There may be moments when you feel that you just can’t give one more thing for the sake of your kids. You feel like you just can’t stay in that job or stay in that marriage or stay in that situation. But I would remind you that if parenting teaches us anything it is that it’s not about you.
Additionally, and more importantly, I would remind you that Jesus sacrificed more of himself for you, and fo your kids, because he loved more than that, and he calls you to do the same. He calls you to a life of sacrifice, because he calls you to love. And without sacrifice, there is no love. And failing to sacrifice means failing to love – no matter what you are “feeling.”
I hope you enjoy this Holy Week, and remember all that has been sacrificed for you.
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