“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.”
Live a life of love. It almost sounds easy. It offers a warm and inviting, harmonious fix to our relational problems.
Why then would I want to live my life more selfishly? Real life loving requires strength that I don’t have, if I am honest.
Am I really taking to heart the life of Jesus and the instructions to imitate His life of love? He lived love. If our wonderful Lord Jesus gave up his “rights” to reconcile me back to God, someone that did not deserve such mercy, why wouldn’t I want to be transformed to have this same sacrificial mind and heart? Christ Jesus is the maker of all things; nothing exists without Him. He is the Son of God, and He alone stands preeminent above every other power or authority. And, yet, Jesus did not choose to live for Himself or grasp at the “God” rights. His love was a giving, extravagant kind of love.
The very sad reason I chafe at living a sacrificial life of love is that I default easily to loving myself more, more than Jesus, and more than the people around me. I want easy comfort. I don’t like relational messiness. I don’t want to give sacrificially and extravagantly like Jesus did for me. I often set standards that must be met before I will love freely. I live like love should have to be earned. But, I don’t know any of these perfect people. Life can get really messy. The person I want to love has weaknesses and failures. I am ashamed that often I demand so much from others, which seems especially terribly when I have been given the truest love generously and without a price tag. I have this ongoing need to have these self-centric desires removed and to return again and again to my first love, Jesus–every single day. So, that out of the joy of His love for me, the comfort of never being abandoned by Him ever, the confidence of every spiritual gift given to me to fulfill His purposes for me, and the resurrection power of His living Spirit working in me, I will have a quiet heart to do His will and live a life of love to Christ first above all, as well as in my relationships. I am dependent on Jesus to love like He loves. When it is easy and also when it is hard, my strength will come from Him as I live in Him and for Him. I could never live a life of love without the presence and power of Christ living in me, and gloriously that is exactly what is offered through His triumphant and generous grace.