“1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2
Do you ever have moments when you feel like something just keeps coming back at you over and over again like a jack hammer at your inattention? Over the last couple of weeks, the idea of just how interrelated our love of others and love of God is has been coming at me over and over again. I’m taking a Christian Ethics class online this summer and as I listen to the lectures, I’m repeatedly impressed at how important the role of our Christian response to the world around us and how our faith informs our behavior is important in relation to our worship of God. My professor has directly said that without an understanding of our ethical response to the people and circumstances around us, we have a severe lack in our relationship to God.
Then it came up again, about a week ago in the message at church from the above passage in Ephesians. Scott, our senior pastor, pointed out that fact that Christ’s actions have two directions. Christ gives himself up for us, which is a horizontal action of reaching out towards us in love. At the same time, his action is a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God, which is a vertical act of love for God. So His love of humanity and sacrificial humility are an act of worship that not only draws Him closer to those around Him, but to God as well.
And just before this, the letter to the Ephesians urges us to follow the example of Christ’s example as dearly loved children.
Our college group is studying through 1 John, which just feels like it was written with the messages of Ephesians in mind. John’s contrast of light and darkness continue this mindset of how important our horizontal, relational, and ethical actions are direct evidence and participation in the reality of our salvation and relationship with God. This past week, I was rereading through the entire book of 1 John. Over and over again, John brings up the importance of laying down your life for your brothers and sisters and that the absence of this real love brings to question the presence of God in your life.
This was a hard thing for me to wrestle with this past week. I was majorly convicted of some people in my life that I have just not been very loving towards. As I sat and meditated on my own motivations and heart towards those around me, God broke my heart. I almost wept sitting right on the floor as I felt incredible love and compassion that came out of nowhere. I sat with a sense of the compassion of God and an awareness of the need for me to pour out the same compassion, love and acceptance to my brothers and sisters around me.
This is my challenge and my spiritual act of worship now.