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Love and Sacrifice

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Love and Sacrifice

Sacrifice is integral to that relationship. Before making that case, however, I think we need to define one aspect of what the Bible means by love. It is far different than our common usage.

In our culture, the concept of love centers on emotions and subjective value judgments. It is generally understood that to love someone is to have nice feelings about them. To say, "I love you" is usually to mean, "Thinking about you generates pleasurable feelings inside of me." However, in the Bible, love does not refer primarily to an emotional state. Rather, to love biblically is to act in a self-sacrificing way for the good of others.

Jesus' most famous teaching on love took place on the day before his crucifixion. After washing his disciples' feet and explaining that he was going to be betrayed and would have to leave them, he said, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:34-35).

How did Jesus define love? What did he mean when he said the disciples should love each other in the same way that Jesus loved them? The broader context of this passage in John is one in which Jesus, the Creator and King of the Universe, not only stooped to wash his disciples' feet, but then gave up his very life that they might be saved. To love as Jesus loved, then, is to act self-sacrificially. The disciples were instructed to sacrifice for others. When Jesus repeated the commandment later, he made this plain. "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this,

that he lay down his life for his friends"

Biblical love is more than nice words and pleasant feelings. It is sacrificial action. When the Bible talks about God loving us, it is primarily speaking of the fact that he acts in a self-sacrificing way for our benefit.



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