You save humans and animals alike, O Lord. Psalm 36:6b
Did you see what happened in Scarborough, England on New Year’s Eve? A lost walrus (nicknamed Thor) was found resting in the Scarborough harbor and – after consulting with Marine Life Professionals – the town council decided to cancel their fireworks program for the sake of the walrus’ welfare.
A representative from the Scarborough Borough Council said on December 31st:
“We have taken the decision to cancel tonight’s New Year’s Eve fireworks display on the advice of British Divers Marine Life Rescue because of the arrival of the walrus ‘Thor’ in the harbour. There are concerns that the display could cause distress to the mammal.” Source.
Scarborough is a city of about 108,000 citizens. They had been planning the fireworks event for about six months. They had already purchased the fireworks out of the annual budget. And then they canceled to protect a walrus.
This is extraordinary. Most of us are concerned primarily with our own distress, our personal inconvenience, our individual discomfort.
Not only would most of us not miss out on a party for the sake of a walrus, many of us resented wearing face masks to protect our neighbors from covid.
What I believe about the atonement is that Jesus died to show the depths of God’s love for us. We who claim Jesus as our Savior are sometimes slow to make personal sacrifices beyond the easy ones. Most of us do not give to those in need in ways that involve authentic sacrifice on our parts. Most of us are annoyed by being personally inconvenienced even if what’s inconvenient to us is life-saving to someone else.
Whether we are talking about canceling fireworks for the sake of a confused animal or postponing a football game out of respect for a seriously hurt player, it’s often the right and good thing to do. Re: that football game.
Loving sacrifices include
- Stepping away from a leadership position we love for the sake of allowing fresh leadership,
- Surrendering the need to control a mission project we love for the sake of equipping new volunteers,
- Choosing to refrain from replacing our car this year in order to make a more generous donation to mission,
- Shifting our schedule in order to sit with a grieving neighbor,
- Going out of our way to turn someone else’s mess into an opportunity to relieve them even a little bit.
Jesus spoke words about the loving sacrifice of giving our lives for the sake of others. Sometimes all it takes to love someone sacrificially is to be willing to be inconvenienced for one night.