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 5:2
We declare as believers in Jesus Christ that there is nothing we can do to merit eternal salvation, that the Son of God was the one sacrifice for sins. Yet there are sacrifices that we can do that actually please God as a fragrant offering. What is this way that is so pleasing to God? It is the way of love. Though our love and sacrifice never forgives our sins but it does please God. This way of love is the way of the cross, it says no to our flesh and ambitions and yes to serving others. Jesus was a servant to all, he died for others, he laid down his life. When we follow him on this way of love we have to realize that it can be a way of thorns, a way of pain and way of suffering. It is never easy to choose to love especially when we have been hurt. Jesus was very much hurt by the sins of the world, by the rejection of his family, priests and even his disciples. We are given this highest example of Christ who laid down everything for us and so we can also lay down our little lives for others. How pleasing it is to God when our acts of kindness towards others are expressed. When we do a deed of love to an unbeliever, to someone in the body of Christ that offended us. Love covers a multitude of sins, love seeks no wrong.
This way of love goes also beyond disagreements, hurts, problems and good deeds. It can result in a laying down of one's complete life. The early Church saw this way clear as most of the holy Apostles were martyred, Christ was martyred and it was common thought that it was very possible if you followed him you could be put to death also. The way of love lays down its life for the sake of the Good News to a lost a dying world. Though our death does not redeem anyone, its example can as it points to the merit and worth of Jesus Christ. The Early Church Father Ignatius said, "I came bound from Syria for the common name and hope, trusting through your prayers to be permitted to fight with beasts at Rome, that so by martyrdom I may indeed become the disciple of Him who gave Himself for us, an offering and sacrifice to God." God desires to see disciples such as this who follow him in this way of love seeking not to save their lives but to lose them.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon