Devon Dick: Sacrifice according to Bolt, Body Selling and Baptists
Last week, Usain Bolt, in commenting on whether he would continue to run on the track after the Rio Olympics said, "Personally, I don't really want to continue for years and years because it is getting hard. I have to sacrifice more and more. It takes up so much of your time." ('Bolt targets sub-19 run', The Gleaner, April 21). This is one understanding of sacrifice. He is giving up a major part of his social life and live a regimented life.
Bolt, giving up many things in order to perform at such a high level for a decade, is remarkable. Not many have done what Bolt has done. The great golfer Tiger Woods has faltered because of lack of discipline. On the track, only Merlene Ottey, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Asafa Powell have displayed such discipline and determination to compete consistently at such a world-class level. However, this understanding of sacrifice means giving up benefits or privileges in order to achieve certain goals. This sacrifice is for personal advantage, gratification and fulfilment.
But there was, according to Daniel Thwaites ('I can do filing ... and sumting else', The Sunday Gleaner, April 24), a female JLP supporter who said she was willing to sell her father's land, son's goat and her grandchildren. That is forcing others to sacrifice. However, when she said, "Mi mek up mi mind to mek a sacrifice - sell myself!" in the cause of helping the administration to fulfil its promise, this gave a better understanding of sacrifice. She was offering herself for the benefit of a larger cause, her political party. Now, that is a sacrifice! It reminds one of the movie Ghost Rider, starring Nicholas Cage, in which the stuntman sold his soul to save a loved one.
For the next two years, The Jamaica Baptist Union is exploring the sub-theme 'Living the Sacrificial Life' during regional meetings being held islandwide. What does it mean to offer a sacrifice? It means to voluntarily offer to permanently give up a precious possession to the profit of someone else or some greater cause and to our loss - possession with which we would not normally and naturally want to part. Sacrifice is not giving with the expectation of a better return personally. In other words, when we care for our children by educating them and nurturing them, we should not see the activities as an investment or pension, but doing it whether or not the children will repay later on. Other features of a sacrifice are to freely offer without counting the financial or human resource cost. In Luke 10, there is a parable about the Good Samaritan, who undertook the task of helping the beaten man without counting the cost - 'He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. "Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have." That was a blank cheque.
In the Christian context, a sacrifice is giving freely and fully without thinking we are doing more than God deserves or without comparing our contribution. And it is always to the glory of God and maturing of the believers.
This mission of living the sacrificial life runs counter to accepted conventional wisdom and cultural practices of hoarding, greed and selfishness. The sacrificial life is counter cultural and calls us to embrace a life of self-denial, self-emptying and self-giving.
- Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of 'The Cross and the Machete', and 'Rebellion to Riot'. Send feedback to columns@ gleanerjm.com.