Friday, November 02, 2007

He Gave Himself

In my humble opinion the greatest way we can communicate love is to give ourselves. That requires a sacrifice of our time, of our agendas, and of our money so we provide that person we love what they need most. It isn't simply buying flowers to say I am sorry, but actually showing repentance and forgiveness. It isn't indulging your child with every want, but making sure you spend time with him so you can positively influence his life. Without giving of ourselves we are unable to truly communicate our love to others.

In order to show His love for us, Jesus, gave Himself for us. It was a sacrifice that echoes through history and echoes into eternity. It is because of this sacrifice which provides so much hope for the follower of Jesus Christ. Read what the apostle Paul wrote as he began his letter to the Galatian Christians:
1 From Paul, an apostle (not from men, nor by human agency, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised him from the dead) 2 and all the brothers with me, to the churches of Galatia. 3 Grace and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from this present evil age according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be glory forever and ever! Amen. (Galatians 1:1-5; NET)

Paul begins by presenting his authority to write to them. He is an apostle, appointed by God through Jesus Christ, and therefore stands as His representative. Not only is he writing from a position of authority, but he is writing with the approval of the Church. Paul's position is strengthened by the weight of church doctrine.

The Apostle reminds them that they received both grace and peace from God, through Jesus, and therefore everything that Paul has to tell them should be filtered through that reality. They are recipients of grace because they have been redeemed and given a place in God's family. This has nothing to do with the things they have done, but has everything to do with what Jesus has done.

They are recipients of peace because no longer are they living as enemies against God, now they are counted as His sons and daughters. They have moved from enemies to family and therefore no longer at war with the Creator. Peace from guilt, meaningless, and shame begins to reign in their hearts. This is the reality that they have begun to experience.

Paul tells us this reality is due to one thing: the sacrifice of Jesus. I want to stop and camp out for a moment in verse 4. What Paul is writing about evidence that God loves us. It shows us that He is willing to do whatever it takes to have a relationship with us. I like what Don Earl Boatman wrote in his commentary concerning this verse:
"He gave: Not gold, not a paschal lamb, not an angel, but self. Not a moral code, nor a new political scheme, but self. He could have sent twelve legions of angels. He gave himself humbly. He gave himself by the laws of Sacrifice, Ransom, and Justice...He did not give himself for a crown, a kingdom, or our goodness, but for our sins." (Guidance From Galatians, p. 18)

To be honest with you I don't understand how Jesus' death deals with my sins. It is a mystery to me, but I do know that I have experienced God's grace and peace. I don't know the mechanics of it, but I know the reality of it. No longer am I bound to the evil world in which we live, but I am fear to pursue God's will.

Jesus gave Himself and that sacrifice still declares the love God has for us. We did not personally witness that sacrifice, but every Christian is the product of someone who did. The death and resurrection (which gave meaning to Jesus' death) spurred a handful of disciples to declare God's love to a hostile world. Those effects are still felt in each new person who surrenders their lives to Jesus. The way we know God loves us is through the sacrifice of Jesus.

When we experience the love of another person, especially when it done at a great cost to them, we cannot help but return that love. We make time for them in our schedules and do nice things for them. That is exactly the reaction we should have for God because of the love He has shown to us through the sacrifice of Jesus. Worship is the way we love God. I think that is the least that we can do.

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