Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 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 5:1-2)
Several years ago I had the privilege of visiting Jerusalem. As a part of this trip, I walked along the Way of the Cross (Via Crucis in Latin, also called the Via Dolorosa or the Way of Suffering). This is the path through the streets and alleys of Jerusalem upon which, according to Christian tradition, Jesus carried his cross. Along the Way of the Cross, there are twelve stations that invite us to reflect upon the experience of Jesus in that place and its relevance for us.
As meaningful as it was to walk the Way of the Cross in Jerusalem, in a very real sense you and I should do this each day, no matter where we live. Ephesians 5:1-2 says that we are to imitate God “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.” Notice that we are to “walk” in the way of love. This refers, not to literal walking, such as I did that day in Jerusalem, but rather to how we live our lives.
What does it mean to walk in the way of love? Paul answers this question by pointing to the death of Jesus: “just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us” (Ephesians 5:2). Though Jesus loved people in a variety of tangible ways during His earthly life (feeding, healing, holding, teaching, etc.), His most dramatic act of love was giving up His life for us on the cross. Thus, the cross of Jesus defines the center of His love, and we are to imitate God by walking in the way of love, the Way of the Cross, the Via Crucis.
Much could be said about what this means. But let’s pause for a moment to notice what else it says in Ephesians 5:2. Christ’s giving up of Himself on the cross was “for us.” It was an act of love for us, the supreme act of love, indeed. But the verse goes on, “as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” By walking in the way of self-giving love, Christ not only served us, but also He served His Heavenly Father. By loving others in such a sacrificial way, Christ also offered a beautiful sacrifice to God.
And so do we. As we love people in imitation of God, as we seek to walk in the Way of the Cross, not only are people served, but also God is worshipped. Think of it. Your love for others does double duty, if you will. It cares for people and it glorifies God. It meets human need and it honors God.
For Your Reflection:
- As you think about your life, past and present, in what ways have you walked the way of the cross?
- Are there ways you are loving people even as Christ loved you and gave Himself up for you?
- When have you received this kind of sacrificial love from others?
(THE HIGH CALLLING)