It is curious that the word sacrifice hints at some deeper spiritual principle. The word is usually associated with something “given up” or “lost.” However, upon reflection, it can easily be seen that individuals will give something up for something greater.
It is the act of giving something up for a higher cause or purpose that allows us to begin to understand the sacred principle and dynamic within sacrifice.
For instance, a person understands that to become a pianist, he or she must sacrifice parts of their normal living routine and spend those hours practicing diligently. An athlete knows that that one must sacrifice pleasure for pain and train hard to get the physical body into maximum performance condition. A child actor must often sacrifice childhood to gain star power and celebrity. Parents will sacrifice many things for their children. A student who wishes to succeed in college and later in life must be willing to “hit the books” while others are out on the town enjoying “beer blasts.”
What goes unnoticed in all these endeavors is that sacrifice involves the quality of one’s love (which is one’s spirit). Or to put this more precisely, this involves sacrificing one type of love for another. In a universe created by a God of Infinite Love, humankind has been given the spiritual gift and the cognitive capacity to choose one form of love over another. These loves follow the hierarchical design of the universe—from the physical all the way up to the spiritual.
An individual will sacrifice worldly or corporeal pleasure if he or she believes, in their heart, that making lots of money trumps physical pleasure. A person who wishes to become a politician will sacrifice making money because of a love for power. A person will sacrifice the love for power and domination for the love and good of society.
Since love of society brings us closer to the more noble principle of loving the neighbor, which is one of God’s tenets, we can begin to see how religion plays an important part in helping men and women to reach their human (angelic) potential. Further up the ladder is love of God, which is also a religious tenet. Love of God is the highest form of “loving the neighbor” since it is more inclusive and includes loving everything in the created universe.
In each case, to adopt a superior and more inclusive principle of love, we must let go of an inferior form of love. This is the principle behind many religious doctrines that we must be “born anew” or “reborn.”
What Darwin missed (as well as today’s neo-Darwinian synthesis) is that evolution continues through the human heart and mind. Religion is God’s grand scheme to help humankind (and thus the biosphere) to evolve properly into the non-physical, spiritual realm (called heaven). The human heart and mind, since they operate beyond time and space, are sacredly designed to evolve into non-physical bio-complexity—according to the organizing power of the love that rules their thoughts and deeds.
Ultimately, this requires doing “God’s will,” which is the greatest sacrifice one can make.