13. What Is The Real Meaning Of Sacrifice?
1. Although in truth the term sacrifice is altogether meaningless, it does have meaning in the world. Like all things in the world, its meaning is temporary and will ultimately fade into nothingness from which it came when there is no more use for it. Now its real meaning is a lesson. Like all lessons it is an illusion, for in reality there is nothing to learn. Yet this illusion must be replaced by a corrective device; another illusion that replaces the first, so both can finally disappear. The first illusion, which must be displaced before another thought system can take hold, is that it is a sacrifice to give up the things of this world. What could this be but an illusion since this world itself is nothing more than that?
2. It takes great learning both to realize and to accept the fact that the world has nothing to give. What can the sacrifice of nothing mean? It cannot mean that you have less because of it. There is no sacrifice in the world terms that does not involve the body. Think a while about what the world calls sacrifice. Power, fame, money, physical pleasure; who is the “hero” to whom all these things belong? Could they mean anything except to a body? Yet a body cannot evaluate. By seeking after such things the mind associates itself with the body, obscuring its identity and losing sight of what it really is.
3. Once this confusion has occurred it becomes impossible for the mind to understand that all the “pleasures” of the world are nothing. But what a sacrifice,-and it is sacrifice indeed! – all this entails. Now has the mind condemned itself to seek without finding; to be forever dissatisfied and discontented; to know not what it really wants to find. Who can escape this self-condemnation? Only through God’s Word could this be possible. For self-condemnation is a decision about identity, and no one doubts what he believes he is. He can doubt all things, but never this.
4. God’s teachers can have no regret on giving up the pleasures of the world. Is it a sacrifice to give up pain? Does an adult resent the giving up of children’s toys? Does one whose vision has already glimpsed the face of Christ look back with longing on a slaughterhouse? No one who has escaped the world and all its ills looks back on it with condemnation. Yet he must rejoice that he is free of all the sacrifice its values would demand of him. To them he sacrifices all his peace. To them he sacrifices all his freedom. And to possess them must he sacrifice his hope of Heaven and remembrance of his Father’s Love. Who in his sane mind chooses nothing as a substitute for everything?
5. What is the real meaning of sacrifice? It is the cost of believing in delusions. It is the price that must be paid for the denial of truth. There is no pleasure of the world that does not demand this, for otherwise the pleasure would be seen as pain, and no one asks for pain if he recognizes it. It is the idea of sacrifice that makes him blind. He does not see what he is asking for. And so he seeks it in a thousand ways and in a thousand places, each time believing it is there, and each time disappointed in the end. “Seek but do not find” remains this world’s stern decree, and no one who pursues the world’s goals can do otherwise.
6. You may believe this course requires sacrifice of all you really hold dear. In one sense this is true, for you hold dear the things that crucify God’s Son, and it is the courses aim to set him free. But do not be mistaken about what sacrifice means. It always means the giving up of what you want. And what, oh teacher of God, is it that you want? You have been called by God, and you have answered. Would you now sacrifice that Call? Few have heard it as yet, and they can but turn to you. There is no other hope in all the world that they can trust. There is no other voice in all the world that echoes God’s. If you would sacrifice the truth, they stay in hell. And if they stay, you will remain with them.
7. Do not forget that sacrifice is total. There are no half sacrifices. You cannot give up heaven partially. You cannot be a little bit in hell. The Word of God has no exceptions. It is this that makes it holy and beyond the world. It is its holiness that points to God. It is its holiness that makes you safe. It is denied if you attack any brother for anything. For it is here the split with God occurs. A split that is impossible. A split that cannot happen. Yet a split in which you surely will believe because you have set up a situation that is impossible. And in this situation the impossible can seem to happen. It seems to happen at the “sacrifice” of truth.
8. Teacher of God, do not forget the meaning of sacrifice, and remember what each decision you make must mean in terms of cost. Decide for God, and everything is given you at no cost at all. Decide against Him, and you choose nothing, at the expense of the awareness of everything. What would you teach? Remember only what you would learn. For it is here that your concern should be. Atonement is for you. Your learning claims it and your learning gives it. The world contains it not. But learn this course and it is yours. God holds out His Word to you, for He has need of teachers. What other way is there to save His Son?
In today’s devotional text we find that the idea of sacrifice is a concept that can only attach itself to the body and the realm of perception. In the everlasting Kingdom of God, sacrifice has no meaning – it does not exist, there is nothing given up. God does not demand a special day, any special attention, He does not demand our blood, our money, our time, nor our effort. Everything that exists is His and He, Who shares everything He is and has, has made everything ours as well. The only place in all the universe that the idea of sacrifice can have any meaning is in a dream of separateness, physicality, and perception. For only in such a realm can there be division, unequal division of labor and goods, opposites, and opposition. In this realm then, every person, every situation, every event poses a sense of sacrifice for in a realm where everything is separate, the Son of God Who has been created to enjoy everything there is, must choose one thing at the cost of another. The Son of God who has no limits in his created state, now must be limited by flesh, by time, by space, and by distraction.
Each day poses a thousand or more opportunities for sacrifice – I sacrifice my time, my money, my efforts to the idols of this world.
But when we turn to God, we come in the same state as when we were created – we come in Spirit, and we come in truth. There is nothing in this world we can offer God except our Selves, the Mind that turns to Him. God has no need for our money. God has no need for us to deny ourselves food or drink. God has no need for us to clap our hands and bounce about offering Him “sacrifices” of praise and worship. We must let this concept of God behind with all the other concepts of God that would make Him like we have made ourselves.
To give up this world and all that is in it, is not a sacrifice, it is our privilege as God’s Son. This is a world that would kill the Son of God. This is a world that opposes the reality of God and His Kingdom. This is a world that would stand in place of life, of love, of peace and joy and our eternal oneness and unity with God.
To remain of this world is a sacrifice of the Sonship of God. It is a place where we are born to die, not live forever. It is a place that offers sickness and only a facade of health. It is a place that separates and divides what can never be separated and divided. This is the impossible world. It is a state of confusion; it has a million questions and no real answers, it is a place designed by opposition to truth. To be of this world is to not remember who we are and what we are about. It is a place that shatters our knowledge for God into shards and makes a mockery of those who would remember.
When we decide for God, we decide for Sonship; we decide for Everything. When we decide for this world, we decide for nothing. To decide for God is to give up nothing. To decide for the world is to sacrifice God, Sonship, and all that is and ever will be. This is what the teacher of God must learn and teach for this is our Atonement, this is our salvation, this is what all of us who have come to this realm and have entered this dream must teach and learn for it is what saves us from meaninglessness, comfortlessness, and the ongoing cycles of decay, disease, and death.
What does it matter if we prolong our life in the flesh for ten years, a hundred years, a thousand years if all around us is suffering and sorrow and tears and pain and eventual death. How good can we really be if we choose to build our kingdoms, continue our families, and protect our legacies in a place that is designed for drama, trauma, disease, and decay? The return to Spirit is the call of God. This is what we must learn and teach. Few people dare to learn this, and fewer people yet are willing to teach this. But we cannot have a little heaven with our hell, nor a little hell with our heaven! To give up hell is not to sacrifice, but to give up Heaven is a sacrifice indeed!
Today in your personal devotions, ask Holy Spirit to illuminate this passage to your heart and mind. It is no sacrifice to leave the diseases, divisions, and discords of this world and answer to the call of God’s mercy and grace. Let this be what you learn and what you teach – now and to the end of time.
 A Course in Miracles. Manual for Teachers. 13. What is the true meaning of sacrifice? Foundation for Inner Peace, Second Edition (1992).
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