Look Up and Look Out

Hagia Sophia ; Empress Zoë mosaic : Christ Pan...

Hagia Sophia ; Empress Zoë mosaic : Christ Pantocrator; Istanbul, Turkey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jesus’ love is selfless and sacrificial

Now you may be wondering why I use both selfless and sacrificial. We often use these words interchangeably as if they mean the same thing, or nearly the same thing. But selfless acts are not necessarily sacrificial and sacrificial acts are not necessarily selfless. To be selfless is to have no concern for self. Now, focusing on others is great, but it can easily be done out of manipulation. For example, a lot of times I do things that are selfless so that the selfish thing I am about to do goes over a little easier. It’s a “look your shoes untied” strategy that can be very effective. People distracted by your kindness are less likely to notice the extreme selfishness you display.

Now, technically, doing something nice or beneficial for others is selfless. But if it doesn’t cost you anything than it’s not the kind of selflessness that Jesus displayed. Another problem with selflessness is a weird kind of “martyrdom” that people needlessly submit themselves to. This is the person who can’t say no and lets you walk all over them. Others can’t so no until they they blow up or they never stop talking about how selfless they are. Its manipulation. Again, not the kind of selflessness Jesus demonstrated.

Likewise, there is lots of sacrifice in the world that has nothing to do with being selfless. We have a culture obsessed with sacrifice and self-denial to serve our own egos; diets and weight loss for example. Its egotism, or insecurity, but it often consists of lot of sacrifice that benefits no one but you. Other kinds of sacrifice are when you sacrifice others for your benefit, like abortion. Sacrificing your family for your career or hobbies is another example. Husbands can be extremely sacrificial and yet it doesn’t cost them a thing. We all know these are wicked but the world is full of things like this. There will always be blood and sacrifice, the question is who is doing the dying and for whom are they dying? Are you sacrificing for your husband’s ambition and greed or, as His helpmate, are you sacrificing for His wellbeing and respectability? Are you sacrificing for your wife’s provision and spiritual care? Fathers, are you working overtime to pay for the boat and the mortgage or for your children’s Christian education? Is your wife withering on the vine for lack of sun and water so that you can spend more time in the sun on the water, in your big boat?

Jesus came into the world to satisfy God the Father’s need for justice and provide the mercy men needed to save them from their sins. This is selflessness because it’s others focused. It’s sacrificial because it cost Jesus everything. This is the model of true love. Now you may be wondering about the fact that Jesus gained a kingship for His death. But let me say that the point of Jesus’ life was glorifying His Father and lifting men out of their fallen state. The resurrection was the Father’s response. God, the Father raised Jesus by sending the Spirit to bring Jesus back from the dead as vindication of Jesus, testifying and glorifying Jesus as the Son of God. Jesus obeyed the law and providence of His Father unto death. He was rewarded, but the reward was the response to His obedience not the cause of his obedience.

Jesus initiated an intentional, intimate relationship with men to die for them because Jesus’ love is selfless and sacrificial. Consider John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Notice no greater demonstration for love exists besides selfless sacrifice; loss that benefits others. That is the standard and this is precisely what Christ came to do throughout His life culminating in His Passion. And this is the kind of love we are to possess for one another. In Ephesians 5:1-2 we readTherefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.”

Love one another like Jesus loves you; selflessly and sacrificially. C.S. Lewis summed these principles up perfectly in his phenomenal essay The Weight of Glory. He wrote, “It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbor. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor’s glory should be laid on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken.”

That is the testimony of Jesus Christ. That is the love Jesus bore for His people. For you. Do you love others that much?  Are you bearing the weight of other people’s glory on your back? Are you concerned enough for other people’s sanctification that you are ready with a word of rebuke or encouragement? Are you present in people’s lives to even know how the sanctification battle is going ? To readily speak into your neighbor’s life? Does your neighbor’s glory concern you? Are you thinking and acting for one another in such a way that it costs you something in time and treasure? Do you spend more hours a week praying for the body of Christ than you do watching TV? I know you’ll work overtime to provide for your wife and kids but would you work overtime to provide for your Christian brother’s wife and kids?

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