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.”
Today is Good Friday, the day of the year when Christians throughout the world remember the death of Jesus in a special way. In our devotions and private prayers, in our gatherings for worship and communion, and in our sacrificial service to others, we reflect upon what happened to Christ almost 2,000 years ago and what it means for us today. Rightly, we often focus on the difference Christ’s death makes for us personally. Because he died on the cross, we can be forgiven and reconciled to God. Because Jesus died, we can experience life as God meant it to be experienced, both in this age (partially) and in the age to come (completely).
I would like to reflect with you on another way in which the death of Jesus transforms our lives, not so much in what we receive as in what we give. Ephesians 5:1-2 reads, “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.” As children imitate their parents, so we are to imitate God. Because we are children beloved by God, we are to imitate God by loving. Our model of divine love is the love of Christ for us, demonstrated in his sacrificial death.
To be sure, the cross of Christ profoundly affects our individual lives and our personal relationship with God. But it also transforms our relationships with each other. Earlier in Ephesians, we learn that Christ’s death makes peace, not only between humanity and God, but also among divided humanity (Eph 2:14). Through his death, Christ breaks down the dividing wall of hostility between Jews and Greeks. Moreover, by overcoming the root problem of sin, he makes possible reconciliation among all peoples.
Of course, reconciliation of this sort does not happen automatically, just because we are now in Christ. We must choose to live what is true through the cross. One main way we do this is by imitating God’s love in Christ by loving others. When we love, we share in God’s saving, reconciling, and healing work. When we love, we show the world that we are God’s beloved children. When we love, we lift high through our deeds the cross of Christ, so that others might be drawn to him and his transforming love.
So, as we remember the death of Jesus on Good Friday, may we love as he loved us. May we love our friends and families, our colleagues and neighbors, those who are like us and those who are not. Through our love, may Christ be exalted and praised.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
As you consider the cross of Christ, what difference does it really make in your life? How might you love others today in the way of Christ? Are there people in your life whom God is nudging you to love in a special way today?
Lord Jesus Christ, how we thank you for the cross, for your sacrifice, for your love. Apart from your cross, we are dead in sin, trapped in our alienation from you and from each other. But, by your cross you have made peace, offering to us the possibility of reconciliation with God and with others. Thank you!
O Lord, as I reflect upon your cross today, may I discover afresh the wonder and reality of your love. May this love transform me as I receive it and share it with others. By your grace, may I live in love even as you have loved me. Through loving, may I contribute in some small way to your reconciling work in this world.
All praise, glory, and honor be to you, Lord Jesus. Amen.