“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:16-18
As we continue to meditate together on the power and effects of our Master’s suffering and death, let’s take to heart the challenging words of our brother John, an eyewitness of that suffering and death. The aged apostle had spent the latter half of his long life contemplating the power and effects of what our Master did in life and death, and his words quoted above are one of the simplest but most important conclusions he reached: as our Master sacrificed for us, so we must be willing to sacrifice for one another.
Just as brother Peter saw in Christ’s suffering and death an example of enduring injustice humbly and graciously, so brother John saw an example of offering whatever we have in order to pursue what is best for our brothers and sisters (i.e. love). Love isn’t ultimately known because it is talked about or promised. It is ultimately known by what is done, what is sacrificed, what is given.
Loving others in the fullest sense requires properly valuing them. We must be fully convinced that people are worth it if we’re going to give anything up for their welfare. Isn’t that one of the amazing things about Jesus’ sacrifice for our sakes? He, and the Father who commissioned Him, must have valued fallen and rebellious humans (like us!) enough to offer up so much for their redemption! We must learn this from them, Disciple, and embrace it by faith: people are worth it even when they have acted unworthily. Their value is not dependent on their performance or appearance – and neither is ours!
Isn’t this why the earliest disciples were known to sell their own properties to feed and care for the needy among them? Isn’t this why they saved little babies (usually girls) from being killed by their fathers through exposure to the elements, adopting them and assuming parental obligations for them? Isn’t this why, from ancient times, Christians have been known to stay in quarantined towns and cities in order to care for the dying rather than escape and save their own lives? Those who embrace the power of the cross are prone to exemplify it in their lives in ways great and small. Love always means choosing the other over self – even if it means choosing their life over one’s own. Let the disciples of Jesus love like Jesus – with sacrificial actions and in truth!
Loved sacrificially to love sacrificially,