The theme sacrifice is one of the most discussed theme within religions. It is because it has not come up with Christianity or Judaism, but it is a practice being used since the dawn of humanity. However there are many different interpretations that exist about this theme "sacrifice". And the importance of sacrifice in each religion or culture is very different too.
The Definition of Sacrifice according to G. Van der Leeuw
According to Van Der Leeuw, the term sacrifice must be included to those things which present the greatest variety of meaning in the history of religion. I will talk about 3 forms so that we can understand more about sacrifice as said by Van der Leeuw.
Sacrifice is Action to Give
If you see in the dictionary, the first definition about sacrifice is to give action. Van der Leeuw also said that sacrifice is an action to give.
According to Van der Leeuw the custom or tradition of making offerings and sacrifices began long ago. In the beginning sacrifices were offered to Gods or entities, in which they believe that through realizing these sacrifices, it could receive protection and blessing. These offerings were made as a thanksgiving form. Thus, they were able to continue receiving the blessing of God. In that same sense there were tribes who believed that the bad harvests or hardships they encounter were due to the annoyance of the Gods. And to solve this problem they have to make sacrifices.
"to give but if to give more blessed than to receive”.
Sacrifice is an action to approximation
The second concept I would like to highlight is "Sacrifice as an act of approximation". The sacrifices are made in forms offerings, so Van der Leeuw does not just talk about sacrifices to entities, Gods, but there are also sacrifices made by offerings from person to person. Just as they were made to Gods, these sacrifices were made to receive protection or offer thanksgiving. Just as it is today for example, if we bring gifts when we visit someone.
However this type of offer is not just for gratefulness, but one of the main purposes would be the rapprochement between groups of people. When we see the meaning of the word sacrifice in Hebrew, we can actually better understand this point.
The Hebrew word "הקרבה" (Korban) is translated into other languages as a sacrifice. In common sense many times the word sacrifice is associated with suffering, however if we look at the origin of this word the meaning is different. The origin of the korban palvra "הקרבה" comes from the Hebrew verb Karav "קרבתי" which means to approach. Hence sacrifice was an action with a purpose, its purpose was approximation. If we look at the bible in relation to the offerings made by the Hebrew people we can clearly distinguish this meaning because the offerings were made so that the human being could approach God by eliminating the sins (I will speak more about it later). I think that this concept is a concept that should be preserved, because sacrifice would not be the loss of something but an investment to something, because through this investment we could get closer to God. Just as when we exchange offerings with other people that we can bring our relationships together.
Sacrifice is necessary due to sin
According to the Bible, God educated the Hebrew people to offer sacrifices as a way of justifying, eliminating a sin, as stated in Leviticus 4:35. I think this has become the best known way of offering sacrifices. For, according to the biblical books of Isaiah 53 and John 1:29 Jesus came with a sacrifice from God to deliver mankind from sin, thus giving salvation to all.
Van der Leeuw explains that the sacrifices or offerings were formerly made by a group to God, this offering should be part of the Group. In other words it should be part of who is sacrificing, offering. Therefore, sacrifice does not mean only giving to the other, but rather giving of oneself to the other. With this, it becomes easier to understand the relationship of eliminating or justifying sin through sacrifice. Formerly, according to the Law of Talion was "Eye for eye and tooth for tooth" the way to eliminate a sin, was proportional to the sin committed. In other words, the justification of a sin happens through the sinner's sacrifice, it must be something of the one who sacrifice. However from the direction of God, the blood or the object sacrificed no longer needs to be the one who sacrifice, but an animal, another object that has to do with the one who sacrifice. If we look at this point of view, if the sacrificed object is not part of the one who sacrifice, this cannot be considered a sacrifice.
The Sacrifice in accordance with the words of True Parents
The word sacrifice often appears in the sermons delivered by True Parents. However, besides Sacrifice as an act of giving as thanksgiving, or offering as a way to approach God and as a way to indemnify our sins by separating from Satan. True Father adds some interesting points about why we make sacrifices.
Sacrifice is an expression of Love
When the true Father speaks about true love in his speeches many times he refers to true love with a sacrificial love. A love that cannot sacrifice is not true love. True Father says that God, in creating the whole universe, used true love. And that True love is sacrificial love. For he gave his all to create the creation. He sacrificed himself when he created the whole universe to the point of creating another "I" because everything he had invested.
The true Father often uses the word sacrifice in the sense of giving something of himself to the other. This action of giving to oneself is called sacrifice, but this same action can be called love. And when there is love in action, sacrifice is not even felt as sacrifice. True Father speaks in the message of Peace. "True love is a sacrificial love. True love gives itself merrily, we can find it in the jovial and loving heart of a mother who cradles her baby in her arms and snuggles in her bosom. "During the period of pregnancy the mother of her bones, her flesh, she falls asleep and feels a lot of pain, all of herself and still feel happiness. The reason she feels this joy is the same of God in creating the whole universe, she is practicing true love, sacrificial love.
In the book "Path of the Spiritual Leader" the True Father goes deeper into sacrificial love. By talking about how we can overcome the fallen world through love, he asks about what kind of love we should use. The love of Satan or the love of God? And the difference between the love of Satan and the love of God is that the love of God is a self-sacrifice love, a love covers giving something from one to the other.
The way of Sacrifice is formula course
A second point much used in the words of True Parents when speaking about sacrifice is, "The way of sacrifice is the course formulates." This sense of sacrifice is very much like sacrifice as a way of being justified by the sin said by Van der Leeuw.
The course formulated is the course established by the true Parents as a way for us to return to the stage of Adam and Eve before the fall and after that reach perfection. According to the Divine Principle for man to return to the stage of Adam and Eve before the fall, he must first make separation from Satan. And to make separation of Satan an indemnity condition is necessary. This necessary indemnity condition is made through sacrifices.
That is why in many speech True Parents speaks that, the course formula is a course that we must sacrifice everything we have. Even when we ask most members what life of faith is, the first word that comes in mind is a life of sacrifice.
Types of sacrifice
According to Van der Leeuw the sacrifices can be classified into 2 types. The sacrificial gift or sacrifice of homage and the sacramental meal. In the first case, they are the sacrifices in the form of offers. Offers for God in thanks in honor. This form of offerings can encompass almost all kinds of sacrifices. For even a song can be an offering to God. The second type of sacrifice is the sacrifice of food in which God accepts and consumes this food, or after offering this food can be shared among the participants.
Looking at the words of the True Parents about the classifications of the sacrifices we find 3 different types of establishing sacrifices. Establish old-testament sacrifices, establish new-testament sacrifice, and finally establish complete-testament sacrifice.
1. Old Testament Sacrifices - Material Sacrifice
True Father says that in the Old Testament the sacrifices were made centralized in animals, in creation. Hence the sacrifices of the Old Testament can be considered sacrifices in relation to material things. This is the way to pay the compensation, the Foundation of faith.
2. New Testament Sacrifices - Sacrifice of body
In the New Testament the sacrifice was centered on the body of Jesus. That is why we can classify these as the time of the sacrifice of the human being. Sacrifices through your own body. Not just offering something but participating with your own body in carrying out this sacrifice, the Substance foundation.
3. Sacrifices of the Complete Testament - Sacrifice of the mind of the heart
Lastly, the True Father talks about the sacrifices that must be made at the level of the full will. This is a more internal sacrifice because it is the sacrifice of the mind, sacrifice of the heart. The true father says that we must experience great pain in our hearts after we enter the church of unification. And this is the way we offer sacrifices as we become members of the unification church, the Heart foundation.
The importance of Sacrifice in our lives
When we look at a word sacrifice only with the sense of offering, or as a synonym of suffering, sacrifice is not a word we desire for lives. However when we look at the sacrifice from another point of view, as a way to get closer, to unite with other people, or to approach God, the word sacrifice has a totally different meaning. Especially when we see that the sacrificial love, the love that gives everything from itself to the other is the first expression of true love, we can perceive, that this type of sacrifice is a sacrifice that is essential for our lives. For it was through this kind of love that God created all creation.
Looking a little more in the Divine Principle on about love, the first explanation of the purpose of love, explained that love is an emotional strength to unite subject and object. Once we give love the object corresponds with beauty, so the more we love a more beautiful object this object becomes for us. Since true love is sacrificial love, the more we sacrifice for person or an object more and more this object or person becomes more beautiful, more precious to us, and consequently our love for this person or object increases. That is why when we are sacrificing for God our love tends to increase. In the same way that we can love other people just like God, we must sacrifice ourselves for them. Without sacrifice we can not resemble God in love.