By Judy Brandon: Religion columnist
This Sunday is very significant for Christians.
Some call it the Easter season. Anyone can tell it is Easter by just visiting the Easter aisle at the grocery store. For some, Easter is about new clothes, a visit to church and Easter egg hunts.
Yet, the message of the resurrection is about sacrifice and hope. That is right — one Christ’s sacrifice and then as a result, the hope and assurance for Christians of eternal life.
We throw around the words sacrifice and sometimes that word is trivialized. But what is a real sacrifice? Is it an extra dollar, a tank of gas or a meal for a one time occasion a sacrifice? What does it mean to sacrifice?
Real sacrifice is giving up something that it results in difficulty on the giver. It is certainly not giving one’s second best.
I read about a Christian missionary in Chile who worked in a mission among the millions in the inner city of a large metropolitan area. This mission had the purpose to reach out to the families in the area — feeding the poor, distributing clothes and spreading God’s love in general by meeting the needs of the unfortunate.
In an interview, the missionary outlined some of her plans and the needs of the mission. Readers of this woman’s story who knew of the mission’s work were encouraged by the editors to respond with donated items. They thought that since there were Christians in America, some of those Christians might be willing to “sacrifice” some material things to reach out to the poor and in doing so show the love of God.
A call was made upon Americans in their denominations to collect toys and gift items for distribution to the poor children in Chile. Shipments came in and the children were presented with some items from America.
Yet, one observation was interesting. The missionary mentioned they were always looking for good items that they could distribute. She had been embarrassed on several occasions because of the condition of some of the donated items she had received from the United States. She had to throw away the gifts without giving them.
Many times they received cartons of goods from the U.S. and the workers were frustrated because the boxes had broken toys and stuffed toys that were ripped, missing material from their stuffing.
Some boxes had dolls with arms or legs missing, doll clothes with no dolls, half used spiral notebooks, and puzzles and games with pieces missing. Once they opened several baggies with a collection of nearly dried markers, bent and rusty scissors, and old pencils.
“Sometimes,” the director said, “we just get junk and we are embarrassed to give it to anyone … certainly not a precious expectant child.” Then she added: “It is a little difficult to tell a child that God loves them and then present them with junk from Christians in the United States who claim to be interested in them.”
What a revelation. I thought about me … I am sad to say that too many times I have fallen into the same selfish trap. I give always my second best — that is if I give at all and then I am proud of myself for making what I consider a “sacrifice.”
The Easter story is about the ultimate sacrifice — the Jesus Christ who gave all. It cost Him his life…but the wonderful news is that He rose again and now prepares a place for all of us who believe in Him.
From what my Bible says, there is nothing second best about Heaven.