Today’s Reading: 1 John 3:13-18
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. (1 John 3:16)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. What is love? We don’t need to guess what it means to love someone. Jesus has shown us His and the Father’s love for us, that He laid down His life for us. He did this in a sacrificial way, offering His body as a propitiation for our sin: a covering, a removal, a great exchange of His stuff given to us and our stuff taken away. See, the concept of love isn’t that hard.
Unfortunately, when the sinner exercises “love,” he rarely cares about the other. Think about it: When I am in love with something or someone, the sinner within me really only cares what that something or someone can do for me. I care about how I feel and about how I see things. In loving something or someone, my hope is that my life is the one that is improved.
But this isn’t love. Sure, this might be what we think love is or what the world says love is, but this is never the way in which our Lord speaks about love. The love that He shows is always a love for the other, never for the self. The self is always sacrificed, the self always goes without, the self always suffers so that the other can have. That is the way of Christ and so this is the way of His Church.
Bottom line is that you can’t claim to be a Christian and not know how to love your neighbor. It is inherent in who Christ is and He speaks of what that means for us in His Word. We love our neighbor because it is commanded of us by our Lord. But do not think of this command as something you need to fulfill in order to be saved. Christ already has taken care of that. Remember the whole, “By this we know love,” stuff? Instead, think of this command as something you need to fulfill because your neighbor needs to be served. Yes, your neighbor, never yourself. In Christ, love gives and sacrifices for the other, always for the other. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
In suff’ring be Thy love my peace, In weakness be Thy love my pow’r; And when the storms of life shall cease, O Jesus, in that final hour, Be Thou my rod and staff and guide, And draw me safely to Thy side! (“Jesus, Thy Boundless Love to Me” LSB 683, st.4)
-Rev. Eli Lietzau is pastor of Wheat Ridge Evangelical Lutheran Church in Wheat Ridge, CO.
Audio Reflections speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch
Come on an adventure with author Eric Eichinger as he unpacks the saga of Jesus’ Hero Journey. You’ll see how aspects of this journey are seen in popular stories, and how God used Jesus to create the most action-packed one with a real Savior for all. Now available from Concordia Publishing House.