“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
~Ephesians 5:1-2 (NRSV).
There is something perfect about the love of Christ as symbolised by the embellished memory of the cross.
So far as love is concerned, the Father and the Son have shown us how, and how much, to love—that is, voluminously, cavernously, copiously; more than can reconciled within our minds and hearts.
Yet, to love like God loves is not hard, but it does require discernment, and the holy kind of sacrifice, out of a heart poised for others’ good. This isn’t an easy thing to achieve consistently, and to that end, it’s impossible without the help of the Holy Spirit.
As God’s Beloved Children
We’re designed, and therefore destined, to love; as God loves. Our destiny is to live in love, to live by the code of love, not more so compellingly than via the mode of living in eternity.
Our model of love, here in this shattered world estranged to the concept, is the sort of sacrifice we see in Christ’s “fragrant offering” of love on the cross—for there are many forms of sacrifice that aren’t motivated by love.
We are to learn this mode of sacrifice—against the tending of our hearts toward the selfishness we’re so tempted instead to live. This sort of cross-bound loving sacrifice, done with consistency, it is argued, is impossible without the indwelling Holy Spirit to enable it.
As God’s beloved children, we’re kin. Whilst we live here on this earth, we’re bound to the life of sin—despite our redemption status—as much as we’ll think in selfish and self-protective ways.
But, we’re God’s kin—Spiritually endowed, per our acceptance of the incarnation in Christ, the mission of Christ, and finally, his act of redeeming humankind on the cross, and his eventual ascension to be with the Father.
If we’re family, and we have a family identity to uphold, we model ourselves off the family model. We speak, walk and engage with the world along family lines.
Imitating God, then, is about dwelling in the moment of Jesus’ hanging on the cross, drawing on the sheer magnanimity of that love, and bringing it home into the body and person of ourselves—into our situations.
We will not be crucified, but we can allow our fleshy desires to be crucified to warrant others passage. We can refuse to fight for our rights, making foolish the aberrantly twisted legal system (so far as petty litigations are concerned, for example).
Many conflicts are hence stopped in their tracks—they’ll become limp and lifeless.
We can depose the selfish want of things, and the bending of relational moments to our own way—allowing others that privilege.
Time spent envisioning the cross will bring home many manifestation of Christ’s sacrificial love. All we need do is go there.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.
Graphic Credit: KandLe – Kildare & Leighlin Diocese.