The only way we can rightly love others is by first believing, and living out of, God’s love for us.
I really like movies. I like going to the movie theater, watching a movie at home, and I especially like talking about movies. However, I also love that rare moment of walking out of a movie theater when no one is really talking, because everyone is too busy processing what they just watched. That is one of my favorite things.
I like funny movies, old movies, action movies, mostly all of it. A movie, or perhaps more specifically a movie character, sets itself apart, however, with the heroism it displays. You know what I’m talking about. Those moments like Boromir sacrificing himself to save Merry and Pippin in the first Lord of the Rings movie (best trilogy ever, hands down), or Iron Man sacrificing himself to save, well, half the universe in Avengers: Endgame, and who could forget the great sacrifice of Bing-Bong in Disney’s Inside Out. We see these moments of great sacrifice, and they stir a small part of us to action, to do the same. In those moments, there was no doubt that those characters loved those whom they were saving.
Love is sacrifice. The more I experience it, the more I read and pray about it, the more I come back to that truth. Love is sacrifice. Love is service. This last weekend, Drake preached primarily from 1 John 4:19, which says, “We love because he first loved us.” The only way we can rightly love others is by first believing, and living out of, God’s love for us. Or, as one pastor puts it, “Love embraced becomes love extended.”
Briefly, though, I want to step back a chapter to 1 John 3. The sixteenth verse of that chapter reads, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” Jesus laid down his life for us, so we should lay down our lives for others. Simple, yet brutally difficult. Love is messy and arduous, enduring and patient, kind and steady. Anyone that has ever loved anyone, even if for only a moment, knows that.
Yet, Christ is our example. He is the hero that stirs our affections to a greater calling, but there is no walking out of this theater back into the reality of our daily lives. This is our daily life. The life of the Christian is one that is defined, first, by the love of God, and, second, by our love for others. These are the two greatest commandments (Matthew 22:36-40), and these are how others will know Jesus (John 13:34-35).
Every day, we as Christians have the unique opportunity to show Christ through our words and actions. We live in a country where you can do that freely. Let us not squander this opportunity.
“The place He gives us to inhabit.
The few things He gives us to do in that place.
The persons He invites us to know there.
These our days,
It is enough then,
This old work of hands
His and ours,
to love here,
to learn His song here…”
– Zack Eswine