I have come that you may have life, and that you may have it more abundantly.And,
Take and eat, this is my body which is given for you.I was thinking of this the other day, of how all the gods, demons, and idols of this world do not give life, but take it. They feed on us, whether the gods Molech, Baal, the Aztec god, Tezcatlipoca, the Greek/Roman system of gods, the gods of Hindu or ancestral spirits in Africa. All require sacrifice, some even human sacrifice to please and feed them.
C.S. Lewis' character Screwtape expresses this well in The Screwtape Letters
To us a human is primarily food; our aim is the absorption of its will into ours, the increase of our own area of selfhood at its expense.As does the apostle, Peter,
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.These are simply the obvious gods, but the idols of this world are even more subtle than this. We in the west, people of technology and materialism have our own idols. We, ironically, are called consumers, yet we work to make money to buy things that eat at our time and energy, and what is this life but our time and energy? We kill time watching television or surfing the internet. We buy too much and the wrong kind of food so that our health deteriorates at a faster pace than normal. Temporarily we feel powerful, then at times wonder why our lives feel out of control, why our relationships seem shallow and where our time has gone.
Then we come to Jesus' words,
If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.On it's face, doesn't this seem contradictory? Jesus wants to give us life, yet he requires we lose it. If God and the demons require sacrifice, then what's the difference?
One thing we must consider is the nature of sacrifice. God commanded Israel to sacrifice, not because he needed anything or required cajoling in return for some favour. God required sacrifice for the life of mankind, to show the grievousness of sin and to prepare the way for Jesus' sacrifice which was for all sins for all time. The fact is, is that we all sacrifice, we all live to something, but it is in living to God, which Jesus has shown, that we are to truly and fully live.
What is the purpose of sacrifice? It is love. Love by nature is sacrificial, but when we separate love of God and people from the sacrifice then it is all for naught.
The apostle Paul says,
We may have life, and have it abundantly, yet how much I sacrifice to the idols of this age.If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.