“Loving Like the Savior” (1 John 3:16-24)

In this weekend’s “Good Shepherd” gospel reading, we hear Jesus repeatedly (five times!) saying that He would “lay down His life” for His sheep, His disciples. What comfort these words bring to us – knowing that our Good Shepherd loved us enough to take our sins upon Himself, on the cross, in order to bring us forgiveness and the promise that we would be “gathered into His fold” with Him forevermore!

Another shepherd, David, under the inspiration of God, penned the words of the 23rd Psalm, which in turn, have inspired countless children of God since then to trust in the Good Shepherd whose rod (club of protection) and staff (to rescue and restore) comfort us. Because He promises to be with us, we fear no evil!

This same “shepherd of our souls” calls His followers (His lambs) to love one another. “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15: 12-13)

So, what is “Love?” We use the word so frequently, in so many ways, that it almost loses its meaning. We “love” certain foods, and favorite sports teams and times of peaceful relaxation… but do we really do justice to the word “love” when we use it in this way?

The way that Jesus uses the word, the love to which Jesus calls us is so much deeper, so much more profound. “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers [and sisters].” (1 John 3:16) His entire life and earthly ministry were a demonstration of what He meant. He was not only willing to die for us, He was willing – and did – live for us!

It is “easy” for us to claim to be willing to die for those we say we love, but are we, at the same time, willing to live our lives in service to them too? How do we “live this out” in our lives as husbands and wives, parents and children, followers of the Good Shepherd?

Our text calls us to put our love into action! “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:17-18) James says something similar, “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (James 2:14-17) Jesus Himself calls us to show our faith (to put our love into action) by feeding the hungry, visiting the sick and imprisoned, welcoming the stranger and clothing those in need – Matthew 25:31-46.

So, as the “sheep of His pasture,” in loving response to His love for us, we joyfully follow “His command: to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us.” (1 John 3:23) That’s “Loving Like the Savior!

See you in church this Sunday!

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor Snow

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