What is sacrificial love? That is the question asked by Ted Dekker of his fans and of the bloggers on this tour of his new book, Immanuel’s Veins.
Oddly, that term is not in the Bible. Nor is the term unconditional love found, but these principles are stark realities of God’s Word. We are to present ourselves as living sacrifices, Paul tells us in Romans 12:1. I wrote about unconditional love several years ago and still believe that humans are not capable of unconditional love without the continuing super power of God infusing our being completely and solely. How often does that happen?
Yet, there is Jesus on the cross thinking about the joy beyond, not the shame of the moment. There is the instance of Abraham who was told by God to sacrifice his precious son, Isaac. There is Paul who was beaten and left for dead, whipped, ship-wrecked, starved, worked for his living, who loved God so much that he bore all the tribulations to obey the command, “Go and make disciples.” The Apostles died terrible deaths for the Gospel, all for love of our Father who created us in His image and who gave His only Son so that we would be reconciled to Himself. That is sacrificial love. It is putting our self-serving desires aside to provide service for a greater cause.
Every Christian must know the difference between lust and love, but not every Christian exhibits sacrificial love. It goes against the human nature to love someone else more than oneself. God knows this which is why the 2nd Greatest Command is to Love one another as you love yourself. Healthy sacrificial love is not beating the chest, or slicing to let blood flow. It isn’t being crucified every Easter to show the world how much you love God.
It is quiet. It is sweet. It is unannounced. It is done, not talked about. A mother gives her tiny, daily ration to her child instead of eating the only meal she’s been able to scrounge, though she starves, her child will live. A father works three jobs so his wife doesn’t have to and his children can eat and go to college. A sister gives her favorite dress instead of loaning it so that her sister can look nice on an interview and get a job. A brother gives his kidney to his brother so he may live.
Sacrificial love is more than compassion in action. It is the ultimate giving of one’s self to make life or liberty better for others. Is it possible to exhibit it on a continual basis? We would die trying.
I read a little more than a quarter of the way into this new book of Dekker's and I felt this sinking in the pit of my stomach. I thought, “Oh, no! Ted has succumbed to this vampire trend. Why is everyone jumping on this stupid bandwagon? How in the world can this possibly be a Christian story???? Dekker, what have you gotten me into now?” Then I kept reading. The way he writes you just have to keep going.
I was struck by something else. Dekker has an uncanny way of seeing into human nature and putting it on paper (yes, even women's thoughts seem pretty much on target.) He captured the deep longing of the human heart and painted the pain with words. I think this may be one of his best. It was certainly gripping.
Tension builds as Toma (the hero) is confronted by a little gnome of a man who warns him that he is riding toward evil. Well, would you sit still on your horse having heard that if you were the champion warrior of your country? Of course not. Warriors have to face down the evil and defeat it. Thus begins an epic journey of the heart of one man.
This one is a keeper. I will say that it is not for the fainthearted or for the weak of stomach. Frankly, there were some stomach-churning parts I had to skip over. However, it is well worth the money.”