[843 acres] To Sacrifice or Not to Sacrifice?

by Perryn Pettus

Upon President Obama’s election last November, First Lady Michelle Obama declared to the nation that her primary role in the White House would be as “Mom-In-Chief”. Caring for her daughters was her focus as they transitioned between schools, moved into the White House and became the media sweethearts.

Recently she shared her advice on motherhood in an interview with Prevention magazine, which is scheduled to hit newsstands in November. The First Lady said, “[B]eing a good mother isn’t all about sacrificing. It’s really investing and putting yourself higher on your priority list.” She urged women to make their decisions based on how they would be affected. Do what makes you happy, she suggested. [Baltimore Sun, Michelle Obama aims to 'make me happy,' says it ripples and benefits kids, husband, her health]

This guideline on how to live our lives seems like a paradigm shift. Haven’t we been taught to put others first? Yes, because that’s precisely what Jesus did. Paul says in Ephesians 5:1-2, 21, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God,” and also charges us to “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Similarly, Paul also admonishes us in Romans 12:3 about thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought.

We have a Father whose parenting philosophy is diametrically opposed to that presented as Mrs. Obama’s. Our heavenly Father provided the ultimate sacrifice by allowing His Son to die on the cross for the sins of His children.

Which philosophy will you adopt?

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2 Comments to “[843 acres] To Sacrifice or Not to Sacrifice?”

  1. I’m not sure that I agree with your statement that Mrs. Obama’s parenting philosophy is “diametrically opposed” to that of what God would want ours to be. I consider myself to be a Christian hedonist, i.e., I think that, if we would pursue our happiness at the expense of everything else in the world, we would find it in God himself. Thus, our problem is not that we pursue our joy too much, but rather that we pursue it too little. As CS Lewis said in The Weight of Glory:

    “If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

    Where is the Biblical foundation? To name a few … Psalm 37:4 (DELIGHT yourself in the Lord; and he will give you the desires of your heart); Psalm 34:8 (O TASTE and SEE that the Lord is good); Hebrews 12:2 (Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the JOY set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God).

  2. Although I think that the author of the original post took Mrs. Obama’s quote out of context, I’m not sure I see how the GENERAL assertion of the post is in conflict with the idea of Christian hedonism.

    The original post was about a fartherly God sacrificing for the benefit of his children. If you take Mrs. Obama’s quote strictly at face value, (which, again, I believe the author of the first post does, causing him/her to miss the true meaning of the comment) it does seem to contradict with God’s willingness to give up everything. God’s willingness to give up even his beloved Son for the benefit of his children doesn’t sound consistent with this quote: “[B]eing a good mother isn’t all about sacrificing. It’s really investing and putting yourself higher on your priority list.” Although we generally talk of Christ’s willingness to sacrifice and to put the needs of others before his own, it is probably safe to apply the same attributes to God the Father.

    The second post was about pursuing one’s joy to fullest. As the author of the second post aptly stated “I think that, if we would pursue our happiness at the expense of everything else in the world, we would find it in God himself.” However, I don’t believe Lewis’ Christian hedonism makes sacrifice and personal joy mutually exclusive. Instead, he redifines what personal joy is for the Christian.

    Lewis never meant that sacrifice would cease to be a huge part of the Christian life. Lewis believed that God called us sacrifice just like he called us to joy. He merely took the idea of sacrifice done out of service to God and grouped that under the umbrella of pleasure. Christians are not solely awaiting the everlasting joy of eternal life. Lewis’ point was that the human heart that is striving to know God above all else will experience a pleasure that is beyond all else known to man.

    So although I agree with Lewis’ idea of Christian hedonism and the general assertion put forth by the second post, I don’t see where it contradicts with the idea of sacrifice and the general assertion of the first post. Pursuing our ultimate joy and a willingness to sacrifice are not mutually exclusive as was demonstrated so perfectly in the life of Jesus.

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