Love is recognized as the best way to treat other people. We are told over and over again that we are to love one another. This is a message that we receive from the world as well as from the Church.
For all our talk about love, humans, as a whole, are pretty lousy at loving. The reason is we are selfish. Love is to be other focused, and we tend to be self focused. This makes loving people a difficult thing to do.
The best type of love for us to give is sacrificial love. A love that gives of yourself but expects nothing in return. What this means is for us to truly love people we need to sacrifice our time, our agendas, and our money to be present in the lives of other people.
For example, it isn’t simply buying flowers to say I am sorry, but actually showing repentance and forgiveness. It isn’t indulging your child’s every want, but making sure you spend time with him so you can positively influence his life. It isn’t saying “I’ll pray for you,” to someone in need, but finding a way to help them. Without a little sacrifice we are unable to truly communicate our love to others.
This is how God demonstrated His love for us. Think about it. When God sent Jesus to die for our sins He gave Himself for us. It was a sacrifice that echoes through history and into eternity. It is because of this sacrifice that we have hope as followers of Jesus Christ.
Read what the apostle Paul wrote as he began his letter to the Galatians:
1 This letter is from Paul, an apostle. I was not appointed by any group of people or any human authority, but by Jesus Christ himself and by God the Father, who raised Jesus from the dead.
2 All the brothers and sisters here join me in sending this letter to the churches of Galatia.
3 May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.4 Jesus gave his life for our sins, just as God our Father planned, in order to rescue us from this evil world in which we live.5 All glory to God forever and ever! Amen. (Galatians 1:1-5; NLT)
Paul began by presenting his authority to write to them. He was an apostle, appointed by God through Jesus Christ, and therefore stood as His representative. Not only did he write from a position of authority, but he wrote with the approval of the Church. Paul’s position was strengthened by the weight of church doctrine.
The Apostle reminded the Galatians that they received both grace and peace from God, through Jesus, and therefore everything that Paul taught them should be filtered through that reality. They were recipients of grace because they were redeemed and given a place in God’s family. This truth had nothing to do with the things they had done, but had everything to do with what Jesus had done.
They were recipients of peace because no longer were they living as enemies of God, because now they were counted as His sons and daughters. They have moved from enemies to family and therefore the war with their Creator had come to an end. In God’s grace they received peace from guilt, meaningless, and shame and hope and joy began to reign in their hearts. This was the reality that they experienced.
Paul wrote that this reality was due to one thing: the sacrifice of Jesus.
I want to stop and camp out for a moment in verse 4. What Paul focused on in this verse is the evidence that God loves us. It shows us that God is willing to do whatever it takes to have a relationship with us. I like what Don Earl Boatman wrote in his commentary concerning this verse:
“He gave: Not gold, not a paschal lamb, not an angel, but self. Not a moral code, nor a new political scheme, but self. He could have sent twelve legions of angels. He gave himself humbly. He gave himself by the laws of Sacrifice, Ransom, and Justice…He did not give himself for a crown, a kingdom, or our goodness, but for our sins.” (Guidance From Galatians, p. 18)
To be honest with you I don’t understand how Jesus’ death deals with my sins. It is a mystery to me, but I do know that I have experienced God’s grace and peace. I don’t know the mechanics of atonement and redemption, but I know the reality of it. No longer am I bound to the evil world in which we live, but I am free to pursue God’s will.
Jesus gave himself and that sacrifice still declares the love God has for us. We did not personally witness that sacrifice, but every Christian is the product of someone who did. The death and resurrection (the resurrection gives meaning to Jesus’ death) spurred a handful of disciples to declare God’s love to a hostile world. Those effects are still felt in each new person who surrenders his life to Jesus. The way we know God loves us is through the sacrifice of Jesus.
When we experience the love of another person, especially when it done at a great cost to them, we cannot help but return that love. We make time for them in our schedules and do nice things for them. That is exactly the reaction we should have for God because of the love He has shown to us through the sacrifice of Jesus. Worship is one of the ways we love God. I think that is the least that we can do.