My friend Joel Scandrett (unlike me, he is well schooled in theology) wrote the following as a general invitation to me and my colleagues to take part in a blood drive at work. I can't give blood today, but maybe some of you can and would appreciate a brief theology of blood donation. I therefore gladly yield the floor to Joel Scandrett.
Giving blood is just about as "Christian" a thing to do as anything I can think of. We donate money, time, clothing, food and any number of other things to churches and charitable organizations--and all of those are extremely important. But when we give our own blood for the sake of another person's life--that is an act of giving of an entirely different and more profound sort.
When we give blood, we give of ourselves in a way that no other kind of giving does, with the possible exception of a mother bringing her baby into the world. But giving blood is like giving birth in the sense that we are giving life to another person. When we give blood, we give life.
When we give blood, we sacrifice something of our very selves for the sake of someone who is not capable of living by their own power. Yes, giving blood hurts--not a lot, but it hurts. And it costs us: it costs us time, sometimes money, and can take a temporary toll on our energy. But isn't that is the nature of sacrifice? It hurts and it costs us, but both the pain and price are for the sake of the other, and so are well worth it.
Finally (and this probably goes without saying) when we give blood, we imitate Jesus, who gave his blood for the world so that the world might have life, and who sacrificed himself for our sake, who could not have Life by our own strength. When we give blood, I believe we reflect in a small way Jesus' own act of self-giving for the sake of the world.
Is giving blood some kind of super-Christian thing to do? Absolutely not. And, of course, if physical reasons prevent us from giving, there's nothing to feel guilty about. But are there Christian reasons for pressing through our initial fear or dislike of the idea in order to give the gift of life to someone who desperately needs it?
I believe there are.