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Posts Tagged ‘#sacrificiallove’

The Apostle John wrote Jesus’ words, concerning love :

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

John 15:13

This is a verse that we pull out when one has done a sacrificial act to save another, when one dies in battle, when one jumps in the line of fire to save the life of another.

This is the depth of love that we remember on this fourth Sunday of Advent. It is the John 3:16 love,

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

The God of Creation was so desperate that our lives be redeemed, he committed the greatest act of love, sacrificing his own Son, so that we might live.

When I focus on this greater love, in these ways, it would seem that most of us do not even have opportunity to show this greater love. For who among us encounters opportunity or reason to give up our lives for another?

What if,
perhaps,
greater love means something more?

What if greater love means sacrificing beyond our physical lives?

What if we are given opportunity to express greater love when :

  • we make efforts to befriend the less popular, less appealing, prickly person in our class, in our workplace … in our church pew
  • we respond with loving-kindness, rather than setting people straight, when
  • we leave the coffee shop, see a man begging just up the sidewalk and we take out coffee to him (and go on our day without … feeling the sacrifice personally).
  • we listen … rather than speak
  • we make the time to make the meal, write the note, send a gift to one who is grieving, lonely, one who simply comes to mind
  • we say yes, when we want to say no
  • we offer grace and forgiveness, when revenge might be a just response
  • we believe what we are told, rather than reading in to what we think is meant
  • we keep persevering … investing even when relationships poke and push us
  • we get out of our comfort zone to love others in ways that communicate love most to them

This greater love is the anthesis to what our world preaches today about cancelling friends, relatives and groups of people because they haven’t lived up to what we believe they should say, how they should live, what they should think.

It is up-side-down thinking. And this is exactly the kind of thinking … living that Jesus modelled. There is nothing he spoke more of in his recorded lifetime than love. It is through this virtue that he gave the first and second greatest commands (“love God, love others” Matthew 22:38-39)

This greater love, is the love defined in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13 :

Love is patient, 
love is kind.
It does not envy,
it does not boast,
it is not proud. 
It does not dishonor others,
it is not self-seeking, 
it is not easily angered, 
it keeps no record of wrongs. 
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 
It always protects,
always trusts,
always hopes,
always perseveres.
Love never fails …
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. 
But the greatest of these is love.

This is the greater love of sacrificing for another.

May we be found loving other as Christ loves us.

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I am a big fan of the story of the Velveteen Rabbit. Though I did not read this story until I was an adult, and a mother myself, I would have to say it had a profound effect on my life, how I think, how I live.

It is the story of what it is to be real, and how one becomes real

… by being truly loved.

One of my favourite parts (and there are many) is when the Skin Horse explains to the Velveteen Rabbit what real means: “Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

There was something in that message that spoke to my young mama heart, and it transformed how I lived, how I saw the experience of living … real living.

As I look back now, I think I understand why that message penetrated my heart.

As a stereotypical first born individual, I was a seeker of perfection, of pleasing others, of doing what is expected of me. That worked well for me as a child and a teen, but adults know well that there is no perfect formula for living that will draw the perfect, desired results.

Sometime, life is hard.

Sometimes, life does not work out perfectly.

It was as I began to internalize the message of the Velveteen Rabbit that, bit by bit, I began to allow my worn bits to show. I did not hide the reality of life and living to others around me. Not overnight changes, but, like the Velveteen Rabbit, slowly, through the years.

Just the other day I laughed at myself … like great big belly laugh … in front of a cashier in a store, for some silly thing I had said or done. As I was laughing at myself I realized that I would not have done that when I was a teen, a young adult. Instead I would have interpreted my error as failure, I would have hung my head in shame and embarrassment, hiding my flaws and foibles so that no one would know that I made mistakes …

… that I was real.

Learning to be really real, learning to embrace the lack of decorum, the kinks in our armour, the flaws in our personalities, is what it is to be authentic, to be real. And we are all real! We just aren’t all comfortable in the fact that being real is to embrace the good, the bad and the ugly, that we all really are.

Those years ago, when I discovered the story of the Velveteen Rabbit, it was then that I realized that, like the boy in the story, it is God who truly loves us. It is he who made us real, it is he who love us for who we really are … not who we think we need to become. And when we learn to accept the price of his love for us (the sacrifice of his own son), it is then that we become real to others around us.

“If you stick with this, living out what I tell you,
you are my disciples for sure.
Then you will experience for yourselves the truth,
and the truth will free you.”
Jesus
(John 8:31-32)

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The tragedy in Las Vegas this week makes our knees shake, our throats constrict and our hearts break.

We watch the news and are left whispering,

“why?”

There is no answer that consoles, no response that heals our broken hearts, or returns humans back to life.

But, I did discover something the other day that surprised me in the most beautiful way.

Though the sensationalized news is hopeless and fearful, people are starting to share stories of those at the event, in Las Vegas, who were the heroes in that dark night.

There were the numerous individuals who covered the body of their wife, their girlfriend, their friend, the stranger standing beside them. And many stories of those protectors dying in the process of saving the lives of others.

John 15:13 tells us what Jesus said about this kind of heroism:

“Greater love has no one than this,
that he lay down his life for his friends.”

There truly is no greater love.

This selfless, heroic love … it makes our knees shake, and we are still asking “why”, but this time we are also in awe, for this is the action of a fellow human being that we can aspire to become.

May they rest in peace, and may their loved ones receive comfort knowing that their lives, altered by hate, were ended in love.

 

 

 

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When I read the following quote, by Charles H Spurgeon, I smiled.

“There never was his like among the choicest of princes. He is always to be found in the thickest part of the battle. When the wind blows cold he always takes the bleak side of the hill. The heaviest end of the cross lies ever on his shoulders. If he bids us carry a burden, he carries it also. If there is anything that is gracious, generous, kind, and tender, yea lavish and superabundant in love, you always find it in him.”
~ Charles H. Spurgeon

Spurgeon, a gifted British church orator and writer, in the mid to late eighteen hundreds, communicates love, respect and admiration in that quote. The subject of it is the prince of peace, the personification of love, Christ himself.

Reading Spurgeon’s century (plus) old words, I felt the depth and truth of their meaning.

A more humble servant leader could not, and can not be found, for the one Spurgeon wrote of humbled himself to death so that we might live.

There are times when, in the reality of our lives, we might look up to the clouds and shake our fists, or bow our heads and feel our hope pour from our eyes.

But, we are never alone, never carrying more than has been already carried for us, on the shoulders of our Savior.

Some days, when we are are hit by the beauty of nature, the joys of people dearly loved by (and loving to) us, or we simply come across ancient words and suddenly we are confronted the reality of this superabundant lover …

and it is enough.

May this day we each come face to face with how lavishly we are loved.

“Behold what manner of love
the Father has give to us,
that we should be called
the children of God.”

1 John 3:1a

 

 

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