Is obedience better than sacrifice? In defense of the reader. (Not a sermon)
Trying to make a loved one proud can be so tiring because it seems like it is never enough. Like you are never enough. But…
What You'll Learn Today
- Will sacrifices suffice?
- Sacrifices: To Love or To Fear
- Obedience: To Submit or Become a Student
- The Cusp of The Matter: Unconditional Love
- In Summary
Will sacrifices suffice?
When it comes to God sometimes we are asked to either make sacrifices for him or listen and respond in obedience…and of course faith.
This is a common topic for a sermon at mass, but what does this mean in our relationship with him? Why and – is obedience better than sacrifice when it comes to making him love us?
First, let’s address both words (obedience and sacrifice) and what they mean according to my own experience.
Sacrifices: To Love or To Fear
Since the Old Testament that sacrifices have been used to “appease” God our Father to no avail, but where do they come from?
The Root In Fear
Sometimes it seems like power, status and survival come before love and that Jesus is all those things first – so naturally, fear will follow.
But even God himself eventually got tired of the Israelite sacrifices in the OT.
“What makes you think I want all your sacrifices?” says the LORD. “I am sick of your burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fattened cattle. I get no pleasure from the blood of bulls and lambs and goats.” Isaiah 1:11
Sacrifices were an attempt to purify us of sin so we could survive and not die because of it, like a cure for a disease that we are born with against our will.
But our Father loves us and just like a parent would do for their child He too took the sting for His loved ones. Jesus sacrificed for us and became the cure because He wanted his child more than anything.
He wants to be with you more than anything.
“Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.” John 4:18
The Value Of Life
“Just before he breathed his last breath, Jesus uttered the phrase “it is finished.” John 19:28-30
He gave us a new life, a new wine, and new oil, but most of all he gave us a way forward with Him. No longer is there a need to feel shame because that’s not what He intended.
He came to give you peace and comfort. To assure how much He cherishes your life more than you can imagine. He hopes that we can move on with Him because he took care of everything.
He is hoping that you can trust Him with this. It is also called faith.
“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.” Ephesians 2:8
Relationships change. And ours with Him certainly did and probably will continue to do so, but for the better. He wants to walk with you. Not to better you (He cleaned you on the cross) but your relationship.
To be closer to you than before.
“I Missed You!”
Sure, sin is not something to be proud of. Just add it to the list of things we are constantly told to be ashamed of but – is it something that should make us feel sorry for being born?
I don’t think so and I don’t think that’s biblical either.
There’s a story in the Bible that Jesus tells called “The Prodigal Son“ which you may have heard of. It basically represents and illustrates what I am trying to say here but way more clearly:
In the New Testament book of Luke, Jesus answers religious leaders who criticized Him for eating with sinners by telling the parable of the prodigal or lost son.
The son squanders his inheritance then returns home to his father (after getting lost out there and within himself), who celebrates his return….. instead of waiting for his son to plead for forgiveness and repent on his knees.
No, he downright throws what could be considered a party. And imagine how many parties if it’s one for each of us.
I personally love this bit of the story:
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”
The theme being that each person is so precious to Him.
I mean can you imagine a family member running to you and hugging you after a long time of missing you? But it’s Jesus? It just looks so different from the stoic, regal images we are used to seeing of Him.
Acceptance Over Perfection
“I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings” Hosea 6:6
Sometimes others and ourselves are judged for lacking in “holy” behavior. But why does this matter in the first place?
Losing sight of what something is for – corrupts it.
Morale or moral behavior is a tool for our loved ones. It helps us love them and our neighbors. If morale were to lose its essence it would get turned into a weapon of judgment or empty narcissism that leads to toxic self-hate about not being good enough or perfect enough.
It means nothing on its own. Being morally “holy” or perfect for the sake of it, is self- indulgent and benefits absolutely no one. Yourself included.
Obedience: To Submit or Become a Student
First, let’s get something out of the way. You won’t go to the depths of Sheol (grave) or hell if you “disobey” or sin again.
Jesus loves you and He always will. He came to earth exactly so you and your loved ones wouldn’t die. It would be an insult to Himself if otherwise. But again….faith.
Were Rules Meant To Be Broken?
Jesus loved both the rule followers and rule breakers (Pharisees and sinners) because His priority wasn’t the rules but the people. And the people’s priority wasn’t the rules but Him – Jesus.
If following rules or traditions is your way of bonding with Him that is totally valid but if it’s not sincere – if it makes your time spent with your Father draining, boring, demanding, etc. He and probably you too would rather not do it.
Otherwise, it will just be like the Israelites who offered many sacrifices but without heart or sincerity.
But as the quote below suggests – this is between Him and you.
“But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.” Matthew 6:6
When you spend time with your loved ones, what things do you do or say that you would love to be able to do with Him as well?
Lord of No Submission And No Fear
Don’t be afraid. It doesn’t seem like status and power mean much to Him in the Bible. It matters more that He is your Father than he is your God.
When Jesus taught us His prayer the first word he uttered was “Abba” which means “Dad”.
Jesus who is also God incarnated as a man – even a baby – and became as close to us as can be. Probably with daily human errands and all.
He did not appear as a warrior surrounded by lightning like the Jews expected (kind of like in the paintings too).
As a personal anecdote, something I have been slowly learning is the meaning of ‘Lord’. For a time I wondered…. how could someone have a relationship with someone called “Lord”! It sounded….old.
Unless it’s to protect us.
There’s a protective feeling that comes with that title as I have been recently experiencing.
Protect us from what?
Perhaps from something that could be greater than our bond. Something that could separate us. When you love someone – there is nothing more terrifying than something tearing that relationship apart (like death).
That is how He uses His power and since He is our Father….it makes a lot of sense.
Apparently John the Baptist couldn’t believe how much He wanted to be close to us either.
“But John tried to talk him out of it. “I am the one who needs to be baptized by you,” he said, “so why are you coming to me?” Matthew 3:14
The Role of A Disciple
A disciple becomes a student because he/she actively seeks to learn and listen.
In our case. We learn how to love.
Perhaps as a result of sin, we prioritize our own survival or not getting out of bed to help carry our parent’s grocery bags.
“So I let them follow their own stubborn desires, living according to their own ideas.” Psalm 81:12
Maybe a little trust and faith in God’s guidance go a long way in not letting someone we love down.
The Cusp of The Matter: Unconditional Love
In the end, we can be afraid, doubt, feel disappointment or anger, and so on with Jesus. But would we be willing to forgive and love Him even then?
Would we really wish to be with Him even if He didn’t have fancy things to offer (like eternal life) or…be?
When our love is not dependent on something, it becomes free.
Jesus can forgive even the worst of humans because He just loves them no matter what….even if they don’t love Him.
Perhaps we can love Jesus like that too and become participants of that freedom.
- Jesus sacrificed Himself to be with you so you wouldn’t have to because He values you more than anything.
- Obedience means becoming a disciple that listens and believes in Him.
- Unconditional love makes us love Him and not fear Him.
“Is obedience better than sacrifice when it comes to making him love us?”
Well, He already loves you and is already proud of you. It may seem obvious but when in doubt – it’s not bad to have a reminder.
Overall if obedience means learning how to love freely and unconditionally those we love and God – our family……then my answer is yes.