As I mentioned in my sermon on September 25, we are God’s children. Of all the things I said, I glossed over one key point that I took for granted: as God’s children, we must love each other. If we want to live as God’s children, we ought to focus very specifically on being more like Jesus, especially when it comes to the way he lived in love.
In Ephesians 5:1, 2 Paul wrote, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Again, Paul reminds us that we are God’s children, and he encourages us to “live a life of love,” giving us Jesus as the example of how to do that.
Jesus’ example of love is a matter of self-sacrifice. Paul tells us that Jesus loved us, and because of that, he offered himself as a sacrifice to God. Obviously, Jesus’ love for us led him to the cross, where he became the ultimate sacrifice. But how did he live a life of sacrificial love?
Jesus interacted with the unlovable—the tax collectors, the prostitutes, the lepers—and that didn’t help his reputation with the religious leaders of his day. Jesus answered questions from people who were trying to undermine his ministry, which often led to further opposition. Jesus spoke the truth, even when people didn’t want to hear it. Everything Jesus said and did was for the benefit of other people, even though it eventually led him to his death.
As we try to be more like Jesus, let us live lives of sacrificial love. Our service to God doesn’t always have to be a matter of preaching or teaching the Bible; in fact, our opportunities outside of the church are likely going to be greater than inside the church. If we really want to reach the world and share the Good News about salvation through Jesus, we’re going to have to “advertise” Jesus’ love by living it out ourselves.