A new survey by BuzzFeed recently asked people if they’d commit an extreme act if it meant receiving five million dollars.
There’s crazy stuff on the list; some things downright disgusting. The milder includes quitting the internet for fifteen years; only 45% would do it for the money. 54% would listen to only country music for the rest of their lives. Only 24% would live in solitude for the next twenty years. 7% would never bathe while spurning deodorant for their remaining days. 30% would serve five years in maximum security for a crime they didn’t commit.
Here’s one that surprised me, due mostly to its results. Would you accept the money knowing that one random person somewhere in the world will die because you did? You’d never know who it was or how it happened.
The results were 50/50. 152,000 said they’d do it. Shocked bloggers considered it murder. Another said it’s no big deal as millions of random people die every day. But for your wealth?!?!
This added to random but grand thoughts I occasionally ponder, especially during Easter.
- For whom would you die (if your death meant they live)?
2. Who would you sacrifice for others? (I try to avoid thinking about this one)
3. Who would you accept as a sacrifice for you? (related to the survey above, but let’s go deeper)
For whom would you die? Most of us, with any sense of loyalty, devotion, and humanity, are more sacrificial than we give humanity credit for. We’re such a contradiction. We’re depraved, fallen sinners, yet made in God’s image.
I believe most of us would readily die for our spouses and children, parents and siblings, extended family, and specially loved friends.
However, the sacrifice of life goes beyond the boundaries of family and special loved ones. Law enforcement officers, firefighters, other emergency responders, and military personnel, have died by the multitudes and are willing to die for strangers at all times. Remembrance Day reminds us to honor those who have died for our freedom.
In addition, I believe most of us would die for those in our care, regardless of relationship. In teaching, I often tell my classes that we are family now, and with that comes higher expectations, but also greater devotion and commitment.
Only a few times over many years, in weak or emotional moments I suppose, have I let it slip that I would die for them. (However, I almost always avoid this conversation, for it’s easy to say it under no duress and I don’t intend to appear heroic. Also, I don’t want to dishonour or minimize the sacrifice of those who have died for our freedom, and I don’t want students fearing or imagining some terrifying situation like the Sandy Hook school massacre in their school.)
Beyond these examples, even free of duress, it would be difficult to say you’d die for someone…just anyone…stranger or mere acquaintance.
For whom would you die?
Who would you sacrifice for others? You’ll be glad to know I couldn’t play God. Sacrifice my son as He did? Unimaginable, unfathomable! Sacrifice any of my loved ones for the sake of others? Couldn’t do it.
Yet I sat in a world missions class once, listening to a missionary leader claim that we must be willing to sacrifice our children for the sake of the gospel. She was giving the message that the blood of the martyrs is the seed for the gospel, and if we really love Christ, then we’d put our children in the globe’s most dangerous situations if it meant the salvation of others.
Most of our children don’t desire that position as their life’s future work. What would you say to them if they did? Would you encourage them to pursue it?
My pastor relayed one’s opinion: Christmas is more commemorated because it’s less messy than Easter…Easter with its torture and crucifixion of the Savior.
While it’s true the birth at Christmas is its focus, may we never forget the massacre of the innocents, a huge part of the Christmas story (Matthew 2:16-18). This was the slaughter of males two and younger in Bethlehem and area, ordered by the Roman-appointed King of the Jews, Herod the Great. This infanticide was due to Herod’s concern over the prophecy of a ruler coming out of Bethlehem. Hear the grief of mothers from this historic non-voluntary sacrifice:
18 “A voice was heard in Ramah,
Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children,
Refusing to be comforted,
Because they are no more.
Whose life would I accept as a sacrifice for mine? You and I wouldn’t want our closest loved ones to die for us. Truthfully, we wouldn’t want anyone to make that sacrifice.
However, we readily accept the deaths or risks of others for us more often than we think. We’re comfortable knowing law enforcement and military personnel are there, ready to sacrifice for our safety.
I’m not sure how serious the responders to the BuzzFeed survey answered. But it seems like half our society is willing to accept the sacrifice of another human if it means getting five million dollars. It follows that they’d accept another’s sacrifice for their life.
Then why can’t so many accept Jesus’ sacrificial death for them? What it really brings is life…life without bondage in this world and eternal paradise in the next life.
The answer to the refusal of this acceptance is most likely because people want to wallow in their sin, “like dogs returning to their vomit, so fools return to their folly.” (Proverbs 26:11)
When soldiers die, we accept their deaths on our behalf to keep us free to live a life we choose within civil standards, including the right to live in sin. But when Jesus died, we only accept his death on our behalf to keep us free from sin…in other words, to initiate and remain in a state of right living.
We can’t accept His death and continue to gossip and backbite others. We can’t accept what He did and continue to slander and lie. We can’t say thanks Jesus and continue to lust, be greedy, and remain full of pride.
True salvation isn’t just accepting Jesus into our hearts; it’s repenting or turning from our sins, and putting our trust and obedience in the Savior. It’s making Him Lord as well as Savior.
So if the the Son has set you free, you will be free indeed (John 8:36).
With all these questions and thoughts about death, we can conclude on an uplifting note. Accepting Christ’s death brings life. Abundant life. Life in the Spirit. Life everlasting. Life in the kingdom of God. Life with hope, in love, in truth, in community.
Fully accept Christ’s sacrifice for you this Good Friday. Celebrate that He defeated hell, death and the grave through His resurrection three days later. Repent and trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior.
1 Corinthians 15:54b-57 (New Living Translation)
“Death is swallowed up in victory.
55 O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
56 For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. 57 But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.
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