March 1: sacrifice (Numbers 28-29; Mark 8)

Sacrifice. These chapters in Numbers indicate that sacrifice was part of daily life. A sacrifice was the best that someone had to give, and as I read the descriptions it must not have been easy to give up what was required. Unless there was a different understanding of giving.

We are often give away what is extra or what we no longer need. We bring to the Goodwill, set up a garage sale, or give away in an effort to get rid of what we no longer need. We are glad to do this. What if I gave away the best? That would be crazy. I’ve worked hard and I’ve saved so I could have the best of what I have – and to give it away would be… a sacrifice. Or money – what would constitute a sacrifice?

I need a new understanding of what is mine – an Old Testament understanding of what is mine. What is mine is not mine but God’s. To be honest, sacrifice is hard. It requires trust – trust that I will have enough, trust that God will provide. I would sacrifice for my family. I might sacrifice for myself. If my country were at risk, I would sacrifice. Would I sacrifice as a daily practice in order to give glory to God?

Here’s how Frederick Buechner describes sacrifice: “To sacrifice something is to make it holy by giving it away for love.”

Then Mark tells me that to follow Jesus is what it means to be Christian – and that is sacrifice. To follow Jesus is not a walk in the park but a walk into danger and risk. It requires sacrifice: “deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Did I really think the kingdom of God would require only a few minor adjustments to my life?

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