One of my favorite Hymns from a young age and even until today has always been “Because I have been Given Much.” It is based on the peom of Grace Noll Crowell. Let’s read some of it:
Because I have been given much
I too must give
Because of thy great bounty Lord
Each day I live
I shall divide (my) gifts from thee
With every brother that see
Who has the need of help from me
Crowell beautifully describes what it means for Christian to sacrifice for the benefit of man. While this is a Christian tenet, it is also a practice found in many faiths, and I hope you recognize that I am not just singling out Christians.
Does your faith ask you to give of yourself? Does it require you to give up something good in order to benefit the lives of others? If not, then maybe something needs to be changed. Sacrifice can come in many forms. Sometimes people mistake sacrifice to mean that all that is required of them is a tithe or financially donation to the church. And while this is certainly a valuable form of sacrifice, it is only the beginning of true sacrifice.
Real faithful sacrifice requires a donation of time and talents. It requires that we give more fully of ourself for others. For some this may mean volunteering at a homeless shelter. Other’s might find themselves called to serve at a near by senior community. Some people talents are used to testify of God’s goodness in music or poetry or art. Regardless true religion requires some sacrifice.
I sometimes wonder if government’s involvement in providing welfare has led some churches to feel less obligated to require such sacrifices of its followers. If the government is going to take the money away from us and then use it to support those in need, perhaps the church doesn’t need to fulfill that role any more. Like I discussed in my posts about the Seven Pillars of Society, when government takes over for a responsibility that traditionally belongs in the arena of another pillar, in this case religion, there is a poor balance between the pillars and it will lead to problems in that society.
So, perhaps that is what we are experiencing here. Perhaps this isn’t so much a failing of the churches, but the over reach of the government. Whichever it is, it is still a sign of faltering faith. When one’s religion doesn’t ask for sacrifice, then it will not to help build character qualities in individuals that are good for society.
I call on the churches of the United States (and the World) for that matter to make sacrifice a more prominent tenet of your faith. When I say church, I mean all religions, Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, or what ever may be the foundation of your faith. Build your character on the idea that sacrifice is an important part of the human psyche.