The news tonight is bound to contain at least one example of a foolish religious sacrifice. It may be a suicide bomber, an IS recruit selling all to go to Syria, or a county clerk going to jail for failing to give marriage licenses. That last example may be a bit controversial, but it is carefully chosen. I think all forms of martyrdom should conform to the rules of civil disobedience. Before I pick up a cross, participate in an act that is likely to cause me harm or imprisonment, or fail to perform the reasonable duties of my workplace, I must ask:
1) Is it my heart’s desire to alleviate suffering, guarantee liberty, or provide justice for those unlikely to receive it otherwise?
2) Is the authority that I am disobeying or resisting legitimate?
3) Am I willing to bear the consequences of my action?
4) Have I thought through the above and concluded that my action is the most appropriate and loving response to the issue?
Jesus never calls us to make unreasonable sacrifices. We each pick up our cross by doing that thing for which we made. We should know our crosses well. They are unique and represent the intersection of our giftedness and the humanity’s pain. Our mind, soul, and strength, are bound to our cross. From time to time, an illegitimate authority threatens the innocent. We bring our cross and stand with those in pain. From time to time, the strong steal from the weak. We must confront the powerful and shame the greedy. From time to time, the actions of our workplace or society are unfair and wasteful. We choose to act differently, accepting the consequence of our civil disobedience.
Our cross is always with us. It is the latent portion of our faith. From time to time, the Holy Spirit calls us to bring our cross out of hiding. Ideally, our actions will represent our deepest convictions and be tempered by a loving heart seeking understanding. We can’t just do something unreasonable and call it a sacrifice for God.