Monday, January 7, 2019

Letting Someone Sacrifice You

When I was in college, I had a very close female friend and the two of us were "not dating." One night I met up with her briefly before she ran off to do something else and God spoke to me very clearly, letting me know that she was going to "lay me on the altar." The next day when she wanted to talk to me, she used those exact words, "I'm laying you on the altar." Having been prepared for the conversation, I was able to handle it fairly well. But I also began to think a lot about an often overlooked biblical character, Isaac.

Not long after God assured Abraham that Ishmael would be taken care of and had him sent away, God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac as a way of testing Abraham. Being well over 100 years old, Abraham made Isaac carry the wood for the sacrifice up a mountain.  Isaac was knowledgeable enough about the sacrificial process to ask his father where the sacrifice actually was since they hadn't taken one with them. Then when they reached the top of the mountain, Isaac did something extraordinary. When they arrived at the place where God had told him to go, Abraham built an altar and arranged the wood on it. Then he tied his son, Isaac, and laid him on the altar on top of the wood (Genesis 22:9, NLT). Did you catch that? This young man who was strong enough to carry firewood up a mountain and smart enough to know what was going on allowed a man 100 years his senior to tie him up and prepare him as a sacrifice!

Sometimes, the people around us have to experience some difficult things. Sometimes they have to give things up in order to grow and mature. Sometimes they have to let go of things that interfere with their relationship with God. And sometimes that something is us.

One thing that being Christ-like means is being willing to be sacrificed for someone else's good, which is very different than sacrificing for someone else's good. When we sacrifice, we make the choice. When we are sacrificed someone else makes the choice and we have to live with it. Isaac allowed himself to be sacrificed in much the same way that Jesus allowed the people of his day to put him on a cross. Both men could have stopped the events and choose not to.

Maybe, today, you are being sacrificed. Maybe someone is in the process of giving you up or leaving you behind because doing so is necessary for them to grow up or move on with their lives. If so, let me tell you that being sacrificed is never fun; it can leave you feeling rejected, unappreciated and undervalued. But if you make the choice to allow yourself to be sacrificed, if you can choose to accept the heartache and pain for someone else's good, you will be at least one step closer to knowing what Jesus went through and who Jesus really is. And you will be practicing a love that is concerned with the other person rather than with yourself.

The next time you are sacrificed, how will you respond? Will you focus on the feelings of hurt? Or will you find a way to embrace being sacrificed?

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