Posts Tagged With: self-sacrifice

“Love One Another” (John 13:34-35)

I dedicate this post to the memory of my mother, Rosemarie Lynch, who went to her eternal rest on November 6. Mom overcame many challenges in her life, but still found ways to be a blessing to others.

Photo by Wingchi Poon, under a Creative Commons CC BY-SA 3.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35; all Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible).

Jesus told His disciples that the mark of a true disciple would be love for others. “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another”: not if you have great theology, preach to a lot of people, can quote the Bible in your sleep, listen to gospel music, etc. Love for other people, especially other Christians, proves our love for Jesus. (A sad indictment of many Christians is their eagerness to say “They’re not real Christians” about people they disagree with.)

Romans 12:10 says the following:

“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor….”

Genuine Christian love places the needs of others above oneself, particularly above one’s wants and convenience.

Christian love is sacrificial. Jesus said we should love one another as He has loved us. How did He love us? Most notably, by dying for our sins. He gave everything for us. Our need for forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life superseded His desire for earthly comfort. We do not show our love just by enjoying the company of others when it is convenient. True Christian love demands that we go out on a limb, care for the needs of those who are hurting, even when it means we may have to forego some of our desires. Jesus calls us to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, provide clothing to the naked, care for the sick, and visit prisoners. Are we answering His call with loving action, or do we just pray for these people, hoping God will send someone else to make real sacrifices?

Christian love upholds the dignity of others. Some people obsess about power, control, and authority in relationships. One person is “higher up” than another. Too often, sermons about family focus on a hierarchy: The husband is the head of the wife, the parents are over the children, and so on. The Bible justifies some of this. However, it is an incomplete perspective. Without love, it can be dangerous. Husbands, love your wives; wives, love your husbands. Love your children; do not embitter them. Give preference to one another. Show compassion.

Love, respect, and dignity should guide our relationships, not control. Such guidelines should govern all of our relationships, whether in the family, the church, or elsewhere.

Christian love is not always easy. Jesus does not call us to love those who are easy to love; almost anybody can do that! We are called to imitate God and His Son, Jesus Christ. This calls us to love others as Jesus loved us: completely, sacrificially, imparting life and hope to others.

I would like to hear from you. How do you seek God when He seems distant or it looks like He is allowing you to suffer? Share your thoughts or suggestions by clicking the “Leave a comment” link below.

Copyright © 2021 Michael E. Lynch. All rights reserved.

Categories: Bible meditations, Christian Life | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ignatius of Antioch

“Let me be given to the wild beasts, for by their means I can attain to God. I am God’s wheat, and I am being ground by the teeth of the beasts so that I may be like pure bread” (Ignatius of Antioch).

Ignatius, a second-century bishop of Antioch, is commemorated in several traditional churches on October 17.

Ignatius of Antioch. Image via Wikimedia Commons (public domain).

Ignatius was an early bishop of Antioch who was killed in the Roman arena around 107 AD (some historians believe it was later, perhaps around 140 AD). We do not know if he ever met any of the apostles. It is possible: He wrote a letter to Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, who had been a student of St. John. So, he lived early enough to have met or learned from one of the men who wrote the New Testament.

Most of what we know about Ignatius is from the last few months of his life. He wrote several influential letters while being transported to Rome, where he would be executed in the Coliseum. Although facing death, he did not give in to discouragement.

One of the last things he said, while being taken to his execution, was “Now do I begin to be a disciple of my Master, Christ.” Suffering—even torture or death—would not discourage him. He saw it as a vital part of being a disciple of Jesus.

How do we handle hardship? The last seven months have been difficult for most Americans. Many have lost jobs. Most have experienced isolation. Some have suffered severe illness. Many have lost loved ones. Have we complained, grown bitter, or struggled in our faith?

Or, have we seen it as an opportunity to grow as disciples of Jesus? The early Christians took Jesus’ words seriously:

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?’” (Matthew 16:24–26, New American Standard Bible).

Jesus calls His disciples to value His kingdom above this world. They sought to glorify Him rather than seek rewards, comfort, and pleasure in this world.

We have been through difficult times, but we have not been thrown to the lions. Actually, some of us have complained like spoiled children when told to wear a mask in a public place, as if that was painful suffering. We have had opportunities for meditation, self-examination, and reflection. We have had time to look at our lives, spend more time praying, study Scripture more, and so on. Have we sought God in our circumstances, or have we ignored Him? Have we avoided Him? Have we put our own comfort ahead of His will?

Copyright © 2020 Michael E. Lynch. All rights reserved.

Categories: Church Calendar: Holy Days and Seasons | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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