“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life 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 NIVUK
These verses say unequivocally that we Christians are “dearly loved”. Children of God. And Jesus, through His sacrifice at Calvary, a selfless act that was part of God’s plan, demonstrated His love for us. Because we are “dearly loved”, Paul wrote that we must follow God’s example, and we must “live a life of love”. Beautiful words and sentiments. Two verses that give us a warm glow inside and lead us to a place of worship, as we meditate on all that God has done for us.
But here’s the thing – what does ”living a life of love” look like in the day to day world of today’s pilgrims? In a war-torn world, full of doom and gloom. The Covid pandemic refuses to lie down or go away. Rising energy and commodity costs risk tipping many families into poverty and debt. Newspapers and journalists try to outdo each other to win the prize for the most negative, doom-laden, story. But in all of that the message to us today is the same as it was when Paul wrote to his Ephesian friends, that we are “dearly loved”. I don’t know about you but that has provided me with another perspective on life. My status in God’s eyes somehow elevates me above the natural world into Heavenly places.
On my morning prayer walk today I looked around at the hints of spring. The snowdrops have been around for a while. Crocuses and daffodils abound. The bird song is different. Just a few days ago I saw a couple of ducks exploring the small stream that trickles through the woodland nearby. In the distance was the drumming of a woodpecker. This is God’s creation, the environment He supplied for the “deeply loved”. And somehow, the worldly mayhem around me seemed less relevant. Escapism? Denial? I don’t think so – just a reminder, an appreciation, that my Heavenly Father cares for me. He promised never to leave me. He promised to meet all my needs. Life may not be easy right now, but He is here for me, because He loves me.
Back to my question – what does living a life of love look like? Simply, the love God has lavished on me is there for me to lavish on those around me. To those in my family. My neighbours and friends. My workmates. Those people I meet in the supermarket, the petrol station. And my acts of love may seem small – perhaps no more than a cheery word – but essential nonetheless to dispense the love we have to share. A man I met the other day is worried about being able to pay his energy bills. The anxiety is eating away at him like a cancer. I couldn’t do much about his bills, but I was able to tell him that God loves and cares for him. Briefly, a flicker of relief crossed his face and I pray that he too comes to a place where he knows he is deeply loved.
Who is there around us today who needs to know the love of God? We all have our messages of hope, ready and waiting to bring light into a dark world. We all must unselfishly try our utmost to find someone with whom we can share all that God has done for us. We are dearly loved children of God extending an invitation to those we meet, an invitation to join the most wonderful family ever. God’s family. Open to all – He has more than enough love to go round.