A Life of Sacrifice
Today’s scripture selection: Leviticus 1-3
Key verses: Leviticus 1:2
If you are a sensitive soul, it makes for difficult reading: chapter after chapter, book after book, about bloody sacrifice.
Although scholars disagree about the exact meaning and purpose of all the various sacrifices in the religion of the Hebrew people, they agree it was of central importance. The idea of having an individual’s sins – or the people’s collective sin – wiped away or atoned for – this was at the heart of all the killing.
It’s hard to imagine just how many animals have been slaughtered; how many offerings made – not just in the Hebrew faith – but in all the countless religions of the world.
And, perhaps most poignant of all, central to the Christian faith is the proclamation that Jesus Christ, the “lamb of the world” was sacrificed on a cross for the entire world.
It may be this very idea of atonement and, as the old hymn puts it, the “power in the blood” is the cause for many to turn away from the faith.
But it can’t be denied; it can’t be watered down or explained away, though many have tried.
I believe at the heart of the Christian faith is the unavoidable idea that God’s holiness and man’s “un-holiness” had to be somehow dealt with – that is, if God and man could be reconciled. But, I don’t think it’s the story about an angry, vengeful God demanding blood from naughty children.
I think it is a far more beautiful, and sad, story than that.
It’s about a God who makes a way, holy and perfect as God is, to find some way to reach out to those who have turned from him time and again. At the heart of the sacrifice – as repulsive and harsh as it is – is love.
And in response – our faith calls us to live lives of sacrifice ourselves – to give in love, to forgive again and again, to give until it hurts – to sacrifice – just as God sacrificed for us.
Prayer: Holy God, I thank you that in your grace you found a way to call your people back to you, time and again. Help me to live sacrificially a life of service in your name. AMEN.