- The Bible Prohibits Human Sacrifice!
The Biblical record contains numerous prohibitions to performing human sacrifices. Whether it be sacrificing Molech our causing people to go through the fire, human sacrifices no longer happen in the Christian Church.
Or have I spoken too soon?
The Christian church may have many people—including pastors—performing human sacrifice every day. What they’re sacrificing is themselves.
St. Paul extolled sacrifice in Romans 12 where he exhorted Christians to give themselves as “living sacrifices.” But that’s not the kind of sacrifice this article is about. The human sacrifice of which I speak is an unbiblical unhealthy, co-dependent tendency to give up our being, our selves, our identity, and even the very essence of God’s special giftedness within us.
- How To Tell If You’re Committing Human Sacrifice
1) Your life is “out of balance”;
2) You’re good at meeting others’ needs and lousy at meeting your own;
3) You hesitate to speak up about your own legitimate needs;
4) You have a lot of one-way relationships;
4) You give a lot away and get nothing in return;
5) Your image of yourself is based on what happens outside of you, not within you;
6) You are afraid of people who are controlling;
7) You are afraid and intimidated by others’ anger. Thus, you do everything to please them you possibly can;
8) You are extremely sensitive to personal criticism, even though you may hid it relatively well;
9) You feel guilty when You stand up for yourself, your needs or legitimate wants;
10) You are overly dependent on others to maintain your sense of balance and security. If they leave, you’re imbalanced and devastated;
11) You are dependent on the encouragement of others to avoid failure. Without their encouragement you get overwhelmed and begin “awful-izing” behaviors;
12) You will do almost anything to keep people from criticizing you including lying, stretching the truth, exaggerating, reversing positions, avoiding taking positions, becoming aloof, etc.;.
13) You believe that there’s no limit to what a Christian should do to help others and your work schedule reflects it!
14) You do more than your share in any relationship;
15) You use helping others as a way to control or influence others to like or pay attention to you;
16) Because you do so much for others, you expect them to do what you ask (read “demand”) them to do for you. Of course, it is because they “love Jesus”, right???
17) Others allow you to keep sacrificing yourself and thus “use” you to support them at the expense of sacrificing yourself;
18) You can’t understand why people don’t respect and like you when you do so much for them;
19) You don’t express your anger. You just hold it all in behind your nice, passive-aggressive “Christian” smile;
20) You believe no one respects or accepts you apart from what you do for them.
- What These Have In Common
- What the above indications have in common is that they may indicate your loss of identity. The more items above which characterize you, the more you have sacrificed your own identity for someone or something else. In short, you have given up appropriate control of yourself and your boundaries. Instead, you are operating out of a sense of weak self-esteem rather than out of a sense of enthusiastically using your God-given gifts and calling from His strength working through you.
- Why do people sacrifice themselves so? Often it can be a hideous form of self-hatred disguised as “dedicated, sacrificial piety: in the Lord’s service. We might feel such things like, “I’m no good,” or “I’m not as good as others,” or “I can’t do anything right,” etc. When we feel such indicators of self-hatred, we’ve committed the most abhorrent sacrifice of God’s most special, chosen being: ourselves.
- Can You Be Your-self?
- Those in professional ministry positions—and especially pastors—often have difficulty in just being themselves. They feel that unless they dress right, talk right, walk right, preach correctly, live the right kind of live, have children behave right, have their spouses behave right, and do all the right things that they are failures.
- The truth is that our value as God’s redeemed children is not based on these things. And though admittedly there is a “professionalism” which the ministry requires, such standards of churchmanship do not demand perfection. Indeed, when we follow it too perfectly, it becomes a façade to hide the guilt, shame, fear and anger that we really feel…but are to afraid to show it.
- Throw Off The Façade
- Get real. Pastors do have problems. They do have needs, frustrations, and other human experiences and emotions. Since when was ordination a renunciation of our humanity?
- Like all God’s people, pastors do have feelings and needs. Pastors get upset, irritable, angry, hurt, and other human emotions. Pastors shouldn’t–and don’t need to–sacrifice, ignore, or deny them. Nor do pastors need to repress them. To the degree pastors are afraid to let the “real you” come out and express itself appropriately, that’s the degree to which they’ve sacrificed themselves at the altar of approval, fear, shame, acceptance and being out of control.
- St. Paul indicated that whether pastors or not, our lives should not be driven by external things which we should manipulate by caring for them, pleasing them, and sacrificing the very integrity of our identity to placate them. Instead, he taught that Christians are motivated in love by the fruits of the Spirit. Even as St. John indicated that “perfect love drives out (literally “exorcises”) all fear” (I John 4:18 NIV) so the fruits of the spirit work in the healthy Christian so that they will demonstrate, among other things, “self-control” (Galatians 5:23).
- Such self-control hinders us from letting others control us and our responses. It keeps us from being controlled by other’s feelings, thoughts, reactions, beliefs and manipulative techniques. In the same way, it also keeps us from going overboard to the other extreme of mindlessly and thoughtlessly expressing feelings such as anger in an inappropriate, demanding manner.
- The Results?
- When pastors finally learn to “get real,” the results are that pastors and Christians can give ministry freely–out of their strengths, giftedness and reliance on God’s love—and not out of their needs to rely on other’s opinions about them or out of their own selfish needs to be needed, affirmed, recognized and shielded from rejection and fear. More importantly, being “real” can be an important strength to uphold the pastor during times of congregational conflict.
- Isn’t that really what it means to bear one another’s burdens, to support each other in need, and to love one another as Christ loved us?
- Quit performing human sacrifice immediately and let your living, vital sacrifice to God in response to your faith and joy as God’s celebrated servant radiate in your life and ministry.
- Thomas F. Fischer
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