Does God Ask Us to Make Sacrifices?

I personally believe that God gives us jobs to do in the world. In essence, these jobs amount to helping others on their journey to total freedom. The outer form of these functions may look quite mundane. They may look like parenting a child, or running a small non-profit organization, or even working at a convenience store, but their content is meant to be the extension of God’s Love to others.

It is so easy to experience helping others as a duty, a sacrifice, as if God has enlisted us as expendable workers in a glorious cause; as if we are slaves building His pyramids. We may expire while hauling yet another block of stone up the ramp, but after leaving this earth we will hopefully receive our greater reward.

A Course in Miracles challenges this idea. It once gives us an exercise of spending ten or fifteen minutes thinking about a simple logical argument:

God gives me only happiness.
He has given my function to me.
Therefore my function must be happiness.

If, as we have been taught, God is a God of infinite love and care, then He must also be a giver of happiness. If you really love someone, you want only his happiness, and your gifts to him reflect that. If God truly loves us, then He must give us only happiness.

When I did this exercise recently, it sparked a sobering realization: Although I have come to believe in this kind of God, I have also unconsciously assumed that when God gave me my function, He put on a different hat. He suddenly became the General overseeing the campaign, asking me to sacrifice myself for the greater cause. As a result, I have found myself constantly shuttling back and forth between the doing of my duty and the meeting of my personal needs, trying to honorably carry out my role while at the same time trying to protect my happiness from being devoured by it.

The exercise got me in touch with just how completely illogical this situation is. It simply cannot be that God wants only my happiness yet gave me a function of sacrificing myself. That doesn’t make sense. God can’t change hats. Therefore, giving me my function must have been an expression of His love for me. Doing that function, which means serving the needs of others, must be the actual road to my happiness, not a sacrifice of my happiness.

My mind balks at this thought, yet is it really so hard to understand? We have all experienced moments of giving to others that were pure joy, moments where, instead of being depleted by giving, we felt filled up. What if we could take the spirit we had in those moments and bring it into all of our so-called duties? At that point, giving to others wouldn’t be something from which we had to rest so that we could meet our needs. It would be how we met our needs.