Sacrifice is not something I have talked about very much during my ministry here at Marshfield Christian Church. That is due, in part, to the relatively minor role sacrifice plays in my theology. However, some recent conversations have changed that, and I wanted to share some of my thoughts with you.
During one of those recent conversations, I was talking with one of the Marshfield football coaches about the role of offensive linemen on the team. Coach noted that there is not much, if any, glory to be found in being a lineman. The position is essential to the effective functioning of the team, but we rarely remember the names of the O-line. What’s more is that when the line does their job, the other players are able to succeed and get the glory. However, when one of those skill players makes a mistake, sometimes blame is placed on the linemen, even if they did everything correctly… Players who fill these roles sacrifice fame for the benefit of the team.
This sense of sacrifice isn’t limited to the realm of sports, however. In another recent conversation I talked with a friend about the sacrifice of military personnel and their families. Whether or not members of our military are killed in the line of duty, they sacrifice many freedoms and even relationships to fulfil their roles.
Then, a few days following these two conversations, the topic of sacrifice came up again. This time, however, in a context I had not considered before. My friend and colleague asked the group, “What are you willing to sacrifice to allow someone else to experience Christ?”
This brought to mind Philippians 2:5-8:
Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.
The idea of imitating Christ by sacrificing my wants for others took me by surprise and has had me thinking since. What would I be willing to give up, to sacrifice for someone else? Am I willing to give up my preferred style of worship, my desired dress for worship, etc… Am I willing to give up some of my family time to support a ministry of the church? Am I willing to volunteer to lead in a way that is not “comfortable” for me, so others may build a relationship with God?
I don’t have all the answers. However, it is something that I am thinking about more these days. I hope and pray you’ll join with me in considering what you might be willing to sacrifice so others may come to build a deeper, more fulfilling, relationship with the Living God we know in Christ Jesus.