On the Altar of Sacrifice
In ancient days long ago, mankind would offer up to God sacrifice in an effort to show of obedience, gratitude, devotion and commitment. Depending on the people or the god, the sacrifice would be something of great worth that would be a symbolic manifestation of their dedication or seriousness to follow their god.
Sacrifice can range from righteous to wicked. Animal sacrifice (often a pure, unblemished white lamb) as performed in Jewish history was symbolic of God’s sacrifice of his son the messiah who would be the savior of mankind. The priest of Baal in ancient times, and sadly to say again in our day, offer up abominable sacrifices to this immoral bloodthirsty false diety.
Today, I speak of righteous sacrifice and how it can relate to our lives. In baseball, a sacrifice can be made in order to advance the score of a team. A player is willing to get out by bunting or hitting a pop fly, which allows another player already on base to score. As we sacrifice something of lesser value, we can receive the benefit of something far greater either for ourselves individually or as a team. When a righteous sacrifice is made, it is not to satisfy personal gratification, lusts, or to exercise power, control or dominion over others. By giving something up we may end up in better health, wisdom, and have personal benefit. A true sacrifice [in order to hold real power and strength] should be performed through higher motivation than personal gain.
I work with a lot of people who struggle with a myriad of health concerns. Some conditions are readily resolved while others can be more resistant. For those who do not regain health as seamlessly as they would hope, there is often underlying issues that impede or even sabotage the healing process. More often than not, there are emotional or spiritual components that must be addressed. I believe that there are spiritual roots to everything we experience, for good or ill. I have heard more than I care to express, “Isn’t there just something I can take?” The answers are sometimes complicated. “Yes, you need to take this supplement, but you also have to stop drinking soda pop and eating donuts. You have to exercise and stretch and breathe. You need to forgive your spouse, your parents, your children.” Oh my goodness, there is so much we each need to do.
Many of you feel like you’ve been betrayed by your aging, pain-riddled body. But in reality, it may be you who have done the betraying through your violation of the laws of health and nature. So where do we go from here. Are you stuck with the consequences of poor dietary decisions, addictions, and inherited genetics?
This is what I do know. You have a God that loves you and is mindful of what you suffer. I believe that God allows suffering, disease, illness (of body and brain) to get your attention. Once He’s got your attention (isn’t pain a great attention getter?), then it is your job to listen. Understand that God knows your pain. He knows your financial situation. He knows the pressures you experience at work and home. He knows about your indigestion. He knows your relationship with your spouse and the annoying neighbor with the unkept yard. He knows your thoughts and the intents of your heart. He understands your selfish tendencies and your weakness in addictions. He even knows what is coming in your life and in the lives of everyone around you. Based on all of this, He can, through the whisperings of the Spirit, give you guidance and direction. You can, and do, receive subtle prompting and urging as to what you should do or not do.
How many times have we said, “Arghh, I knew I should have done that!” or “Something told me not to do that!”. You see, the spirit (also known as your conscience) speaks to you all the time. Unfortunately, many of us have become so accustomed to disregarding these impressions that we hardly notice them anymore.
Most of us acutely know that there are things we are doing in our lives that are not conducive to our health and well-being. It may be what we eat or drink. It may be staying up too late or wasting time on social media. I may be expressing criticism rather than gratitude. It may be acting on the need to control others and events. It most probably is our thoughts that are not in harmony of the righteous desires of our heart.
Most of us have tried (repeatedly) to root problematic issues from our lives only to fall back in failure feeling weak and small and at the mercy of appetites and passions that loom larger than our will to conquer them. It is my feeling that spiritual promptings and direction are given to us, in an effort to guide, strengthen and support us.
Back to sacrifice. I believe that many of the addictions and issues we struggle with cannot be overcome by shear willpower and grimed determination. I think you need help. I know I need help. I have found in my personal life, that when I place my issue on the alter of sacrifice I am imbued with power and strength beyond my own. Let me share with you an example. Several years ago I was told in my heart and mind, that I should not drink soda pop. I have never been a regular consumer of this elixir of Babylon, but felt that I should offer my abstinence of this liquid candy on my alter of sacrifice. Drinking soda since then has no longer been an issue of health for me, but an issue of my commitment to God. It has taken on a whole new dimension. The temptation for me now is pretty non-existent.
Here is the important thing you need to understand. You should not make covenants or agreements with God, unless or until, you receive spiritual impressions to do so. It is not wise to say “I’m giving up sweets! – There that ought to please god and make my arthritis go away!” First off, you are setting yourself up for certain failure. God gave us taste buds that are specifically designed for sweetness and wired them to the pleasure centers in the brain. Therefore, sweets are good, but only the sweets that God has provided for us in nature – fruits, honey, etc. Not the unhealthy counterfeit sweets made with processed or artificial sweeteners. Perhaps, you would do better to put on the alter of sacrifice the Oreo cookies (if that’s your thing). But my point is, do not take lightly making any such commitment. Let your sacrifice be dictated to you through spiritual promptings. Then give it a few days or a week. Ponder it in your mind. Make it a matter of meditation and prayer and then when you feel it is right, make that commitment. Your commitment will be spiritual in nature, but the blessings and benefits can and will be seen physically. And because of the spiritual nature of your commitment, you can draw on the powers of heaven to be strong and overcome.
As we sacrifice, love increases. Just as the mother’s love for her child is strengthen due to the sacrifices made, so too our love towards God will grow as we sacrifice our sins and weaknesses to Him.
For many, the next step in your spiritual growth and development will necessitate the making of commitments. Consider what you will place on the alter of sacrifice. Will it be processed sugar? Soda pop? Staying up too late (unnecessarily)? Not expressing gratitude? Let the spirit guide you. Start out with something simple that may not seem like too big of a deal. You MUST have a success, otherwise you may become discouraged and may abandon the avenue of spiritual growth placed before you. As you build upon your successes, you will trust Gods direction more in your life and God will trust you more through your honoring of commitments made.
I pray that each of us will have the courage, faith and fortitude to overcome our demons. That we may align our minds with our heart so that we are no longer divided within. Life if hard, but I promise there are vistas and realms of peace and joy that can be yours. May we become one in heart and mind with God and each other.
Dr. Kyle Christensen