Marolt: Giving the time of my life
I’d give my life to save my kids. I’d give it up for my wife. My siblings. My mom. My friends … well, my really good friends … maybe. I would. I absolutely would. Even if it’s something I blessedly will most likely never be put to the test on, at least it’s a noble notion.
I mean, it’s the thing Jesus did, right? He gave his life for us, the people he loves.
Now, hang in there a minute. To keep this discussion secular, I’m going to use a very general view of Jesus, not because this summarizes my personal belief, but because I want to keep the discussion going with as many people as possible, not just Christians.
Let’s simply agree, for now, that Jesus was an incredibly good guy; the ultimate proof of this being that he died for us because he loved us and cared deeply for the well-being of our souls. The important thing for this irreligious discussion is that he believed this. It doesn’t matter whether you do or not. The points are: It was his life, he sacrificed it and his motivation was for our sake.
Now, let’s talk about saving souls. To keep on our Earth-bound theme, I’m going to use the Motown notion rather than the eternal spiritual version. In this sense, “soul” is something that encompasses all that is cool. You know; happiness, contentment, basically a good, desirable, productive, happy life. You with me so far?
OK, now I am going to buck the conventional notion of Jesus giving up his life for us by suffering crucifixion on the cross. I think he actually sacrificed only somewhere around a third of his life on the cross. Scholars believe he was put to death when he was about 30 years old. If his natural life would have been the normal back then, maybe 40 or 50 years, that would mean he used as much as 60 percent to 75 percent of his life before he gave us what was left.
This said, I still believe Jesus sacrificed 100 percent of his life for us. I’m crazy, right? First I tell you that Jesus only sacrificed a fraction of his life for us on the cross, and before you can catch your breath, I backtrack and say he gave us all of it. What gives?
Here’s what gives: Jesus gave a portion of his life to us on the cross and he gave the rest, perhaps the majority of it, to us during his life. Jesus put us first. He didn’t have a career. It doesn’t appear he had any significant hobbies, maybe a little fishing. He wasn’t on the boards of any organizations or clubs. He definitely didn’t ski 100 days per year. Pilates? Nah. He was a teacher who taught without a paycheck solely for the betterment of the people of his day and for all generations to come. With the crowds he drew he could have sold tickets and retired early, but he didn’t. This is the other part of his complete and total sacrifice of his life for those he loved.
I find this view of Jesus’ life as fascinating as it is inspirational, but I also see that it puts each and every one of us, who boldly claim we would sacrifice our own lives for those we love, irremovably back on the hook. While it is heroic to think of ourselves willing and capable of jumping in front of a bullet to protect an innocent child from an evil gunman’s aim, the real choice to sacrifice our lives for those we love might not be as easy as an impulse of extreme bravery during acute mayhem.
The only way to partition life is with time. When I give pieces of my time, I irretrievably give servings of my life. Very few lives are defined by the moments of birth and death. These matter no more than the moments in between, and maybe less. Time does not equal money; it equals life, which is a whole lot more valuable.
So, while most of us will never be put to the test of accepting death so another can live, it would appear that every one of us actually, practically, and realistically is able to sacrifice our lives so that the people around us, those whom we love, can live better, happier, more fulfilling lives.
If we accept this view, then the question is not the ponderous hypothetical, “Would I sacrifice my life for the ones I love?” It becomes simply, “Am I?”
Roger Marolt’s novel of spiritual odyssey, “Divided by Infinity,” is available for download at Amazon.com. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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