“Greater love has no-one than this, that he lay down his life for His friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.”
John 15: 13-14
Matthew 16: 21-28
Last week we focused on who God is to enable us to love Him and walk in His peace. I committed to looking this week at how we love the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in practice. As I meet that commitment I confess to finding it hard to turn my focus away from the unrest in the States which is spreading to other countries. The pain, anguish and division is clear and incredibly distressful to witness. The situation is hugely complex and its occurrence now amidst the pandemic, lockdown and economic crisis amounts to a ‘perfect storm.’ I wrote at the weekend encouraging us to pray; I renew that plea. What I did not say at the weekend is that in my life and experience the only thing that I have seen which really changes situations is a change in people’s hearts. The only real change I have seen and see in people’s hearts is that which the Lord Jesus brings. So our focus on Him and how to love Him today is actually of primary importance.
In our key verse above Jesus tells us of the greatest love that anyone can have; a love where a life is laid down for another. In our Matthew reading Jesus predicts His death where He laid down His life for us that we might know God and have life; life eternal. We may be able to grasp how someone would give their life for another whom they know and love but to do so for a person who they do not know, who perhaps rejects them or even hates them is something much bigger. This is exactly what Jesus did for us and does for us today (Romans 5: 6-8).
He tells us in our key verse that we are His friends if we do what He commands; and what does He command? In Matthew He continues and tells us that we need to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily and follow Him (vs. 24). We may seek many things in our lives but the only way to save our lives is to give them fully to God (vs. 25-27). Jesus demonstrated self-sacrificial love, this the means of salvation and eternal life. As He gave His life for us He is calling us to give our lives to Him and to walk the way of self-denial and self-sacrifice; this is the true path of love. This is the love that changes people’s hearts and the love that changes situations. It is the way of undeserved forgiveness and seemingly impossible reconciliation. It is the love that marks the route of the ‘peacemaker;’ that which Jesus has called us to be (Matthew 5: 9). It is the love that the world needs now to bring healing to impossible situations; it is the way of the Cross. May we so walk and may this real love bring healing, forgiveness and reconciliation to the troubled world.
To Ponder: How is the Lord calling you to walk the way of the cross today; what areas of your life do you need to give to Him (do you need to give Him your life)? How might these truths guide your prayers for our world situation today, how might they transform the difficulties we see, and what is the Lord asking of you and of the Church?
Pray: Lord, while we did not know you, even hated you, you gave your life for us that we might live. You have provided for us the means of forgiveness and reconciliation in yourself. Enable us to give our lives to you and live in this way becoming your peacemakers in a world that so desperately needs you. Amen
Praise: At the Cross; Love Ran Red
Link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zev5tHjCB_s
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In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.