The Merit of Self-Sacrifice

In John 15:13 Jesus makes the following assertion, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

Most of us have heard this before, or at least something similar. Very rarely do we pause to consider the validity of the statement. It seems…right. Right?

After all, when Hercules lays down his life for Megara, nobody questions the beauty of the profound gesture—everyone just cheers. When Jean Valjean puts his life in danger for the sake of his daughter’s lover, nobody chastises him for reckless behavior; they generally cry, overwhelmed by his selflessness. When American soldiers lay down their lives for their country, people are rightly sobered and awed.

But why is self-sacrifice the ultimate sign of love? Why must one extinguish his life flame to prove to another the depth of his love for that one? For that is what Jesus did—allowed Himself to be slaughtered by His own creation, all for the sake of love (John 3:16).

We are all commanded to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:30-31). The most extreme example of obedience to this command is to place your neighbor’s life above your own. Jesus’ self-sacrifice is beautiful because by subjecting Himself to the most agonizing physical and spiritual pain possible, He proved to the world that He is willing to give her EVERYTHING He has, even, in a sense, His life. He gave up His celestial comfort to live an incredibly lowly life, be ridiculed, be tortured, and ultimately die on a cross like a common criminal; He gave us all that He had to give. He couldn’t have done more. He let us destroy Him.

Now here is another thought. Jesus laid down His life for us, and according to His Word, we are supposed to emanate Him.

1 Peter 2:21 says, “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.”

And Matthew 16:25 promises, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”

So maybe God’s message for all of us today is something like this:

Don’t be too prideful or fearful to lay down your life; when you do, be your self-sacrifice emotional, spiritual, mental, or physical, I, the Creator of the cosmos and your soul, will surely lift you.

 

Also posted in “The Gospel Blog by FEBC”

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The Purity Talk

Purity is something that’s pretty high on the Christian teen’s list.

spin_prod_761752312In fact, the emphasis on purity is probably making most jewelers tickle themselves pink. Usually, rings are bought to commemorate an event of some sort. But no. Purity rings are supposed to celebrate absolutely nothing happening to you whatsoever. It’s like going out and buying a birthday cake when it’s no one’s birthday. Wouldn’t that be great for the birthday cake industry? In fact, we can get so caught up with the idea of physical purity that we forget that it’s not the only kind of purity that matters. So today, children, we’re going to talk about staying pure, and I don’t mean sexually.

We are fond of saying that Christianity isn’t a religion, which isn’t strictly true. The Bible condemns false religion, but it also tells us what true religion is. “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27).

Clearly, keeping ourselves pure, or unstained, is of high priority. Contamination is to be avoided at all costs, and nowhere is this harder than in our minds. The Bible tells us to think about “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable” (Philippians 4:8).

Naturally, sexual purity is important. But controlling your mind is the first step towards purity of all kinds. We must “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). So, tear yourself away from your purity pledges for a few minutes, and think about what you’re thinking about.

We have nothing in common…

Q: Dear Damsel,
I’m just starting out at a new church, and I’m having trouble making friends. It’s not that I’m not very friendly…I just can’t seem to find anything in common with the kids in youth group. Got any tips?

A: I can’t say I’ve ever been able to understand it when people say things like, “I don’t have anything in common with so and so.” As a human being, you will inevitably have things in common with every other human being on the earth. Do you eat food? Do you listen to music? Are you in school? Do you play sports? Do you play an instrument? Do you watch movies? If you say no to all of these you’re obviously lying! And as a Christian relating to other Christians, you have…oh, I don’t know…Jesus in common?? In order to make friends you must first find a common ground. Once you’ve found it, you’ll find it’s not so hard to build a friendship!

•º•º• Rose •º•º•

You cannot prove to yourself that you love God by examining your feelings toward Him. They are indefinite and they fluctuate. But just as far as you obey Him, just so far, depend upon it; you love Him. It is not natural to us sinful, ungrateful beings to prefer His pleasure to our own or to follow His way instead of our own way, and nothing, nothing but love of Him can or does make us obedient to Him.” – Stepping Heavenward

I Love You But I Don’t Like You

Churches aren’t supposed to have cliques. In fact, in an ideal world, most people would agree that there would be no such thing as a clique. Not at home. Not at school. Not in a dome. Not in a pool. Not near, not far, not here, not there, not anywhere. You get it. I can’t count the number of Christians I’ve heard wondering why people can’t just get along, why they have to group together and group apart, as if this isn’t allowed in a church. After all, we’re all part of the body of Christ, right?

The problem with that assumption is that its foundation rests on this faulty equation: love = like. But this is comparing apples to oranges. Love is an action. Like is a feeling. That’s why it’s possible to love our enemies, but not necessarily want to be buddies with them. (Does this sound familiar? It’s going to come up a lot)

If you think about it, the fact that so many totally incompatible people can come together every week to serve each other and to worship God is kind of more beautiful than if we were all just naturally best friends. The gospel spans countries and personalities. Whether or not you get along well with the person who sits in the pew next to you, your mutual love of Christ binds you in a way that nothing else can.

So don’t feel guilty if you don’t like everyone you give an obligatory greeting to on Sunday morning. The important thing is that you love them.