Summary: Third message in a Summer Sunday series drawn from the book "Christianish" by Mark Steele
Summer Sunday Series
Part 3- Sacrifice & the Christianish
So, three weeks ago we kicked off this Summer Sunday Series by asking, “Are you Christianish?” And by Christianish we mean having the appearance of Christianity (in certain areas of your life), but not necessarily the substance of Christianity in your heart.
And we posed four big questions that you can ask yourself to help determine if you are Christianish:
• First, “Am I more concerned with being the kind of Christian others think I should be than I am with actually being like Jesus?”
• Next, “Have I compartmentalized my life to the extent that Who Jesus is affects part of my life, but leaves many areas essentially untouched?”
• Then, “Does my feeling of success as a Christian largely depend upon completing a checklist of rules and regulations?”
• And finally, “Do I think that by attending Sunday worship faithfully, paying tithe, and completing the checklist that I have fulfilled my Christian obligations?”
Then we learned that being Christianish doesn’t end well, and that it’s really important to measure our lives by the right standard, by the person of Jesus Christ.
Then last week we examined the concept of sin as it’s viewed by the Christianish, and we learned that though the Bible clearly teaches what sin is, that Christianish people take a different view.
We learned that most people think that there are certain big, bad, and terrible sins that should be avoided at all costs, but there are others that are other, smaller, socially acceptable sins. So, while the Big Six like adultery, fornication, homosexuality, abortion, denying the faith, and forsaking sound doctrine are to be avoided at all costs, we’ll practice the little ones with impunity. Little sins like pride & jealousy, gossip & backbiting, greed & materialism, lying & deception are seen as more acceptable, but they’re actually more dangerous. We’ll accept them and engage them and excuse them so readily because they seem like reasonable elements of real life…but they’ll destroy us.
Breaking out of the cycle of acceptable sin requires both the Word and the Spirit. We need to immerse ourselves in study of the Word, and not simply content ourselves with reading it. And we need the Holy Spirit to make that Word alive in our hearts and to empower us to represent Jesus in the world.
Today we’re continuing this immensely enjoyable series by talking about the subject of Sacrifice & the Christianish.
I. The Concept of Sacrifice
It’s not often that we can jump right into a Sunday Message without spending a little time on the definition of terms...just to be sure that everyone, Christian or no, religious or no, is able to start on the same page. But, we can today because the concept of sacrifice is one that generally needs no definition. The concept of sacrifice is so deeply ingrained in humanity that the idea is known and understood in every culture...no matter how primitive or advanced.
The idea is well represented in our language; terms like “scapegoat”, “sacrificial lamb”, and “burnt offering” are used in reference to everything from someone who is set up to take the fall for another to a well-blackened supper. Even in our secular culture from time to time you’ll hear someone say, “Well, I guess this is just my cross to bear.” We speak of military, police, and firefighters who’ve lost their lives in the line of duty as having made the “ultimate sacrifice”. And we speak with respect of those parents who have “sacrificed” to feed, clothe, and educate their children.
We know almost instinctively that the concept of sacrifice is one of loss; we don’t gain anything by sacrificing. We know that a sacrifice and an investment aren’t the same thing. We know that an investment is made with the expectation and hope of some kind of profit, but that a sacrifice is offered out of love, gratitude, devotion, and adoration. An investment is made with an eye toward gain, but there are no strings attached to a sacrifice.
II. Sacrifice & Scripture
Ok…I’m sure that most of us realize that the Bible is saturated with references to the idea and practice of sacrifice. In fact, it’s hard to read very much of the Bible and not bump into a reference to it. It’s hinted at as early as the third chapter of Genesis when the writer records that “the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.” The phrase “garments of skins” implies that animals lost their lives to provide a covering for Adam & Eve, and some theologians believe this is the origin of the concept of blood sacrifice in the Bible.
From this possible initial reference the concept of sacrifice blazes through the rest of the Scripture, with over 700 direct references to the idea...and that doesn’t even begin to take into account the oblique references to sacrifice and the ideas that are related to it, like atonement, redemption, and consecration. That’s a lot of references! The weight of the numbers alone testifies to how important the idea of sacrifice is in the Bible.