Sacrifice and forgiveness are powerful things when mixed together. I wonder why we have so much difficulty with both?
Here's my take on these two essential parts of our Christian walk. There's a difference between admiring something and practicing it. We admire sacrifice ... it is well-remembered during our patriotic celebrations. Movies like Braveheart and The Patriot remind us that our freedoms are a very pricey commodity, bought at great cost. Acts 7 reminds us that our freedom as Christians came at the cost of martyrs and heroes that stood tall in the face of death itself. We admire sacrifice and consider it a virtue. But when we come to the point of sacrifice, how do we react? That reaction is the difference between being a fan of sacrifice and a player in the game of sacrifice. William Wallace, Benjamin Martin (The Patriot) and Stephen, in Acts 7, were heroes ... Randy is a wimp.
And forgiveness??? ... it seems to be the same dynamic. We marvel at how Corrie ten Boom, a Dutch watchmaker who was imprisoned for aiding Jews in WWII, forgave her captors who harmed her and her family. In The Hiding Place she states, "there is no pit so deep that He (God) is not deeper still." Her view of God and her faith in Christ got her past hate, fear, regret and revenge. Her God was bigger than those things. We admire her and we admire Stephen as he faces his accusers and follows his Master, forgiving them for actions that will bring about his death. But when faced with the discomfort of interacting with someone who has wronged us or forgiving someone who has misused us, we let our pride overcome our actions. Corrie ten Boom and Stephen are heroes ... Randy is a wimp.
Here is my choice. I can keep worshiping a god who is unable to lead me into the fire of sacrifice and the humiliation of forgiveness. I can keep following my god that tells me I cannot suppress my pride enough to sacrifice and forgive. I can tell that god that he and I will be just fine being unforgiving of others and unforgiving (and guilt-ridden) of myself. Or ... I can enter the freedom of life with a God that can follow me into any pit I or my world has created and lift me out, setting my feet on the solid ground of Christ. My burden will be lifted and freedom, already bought by Jesus, will be claimed. Randy