“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13, NRSV)
This verse in John 15 continues a passage that begins a couple of chapters earlier in John’s gospel. In John 13, Jesus begins his observance of Passover by washing his disciples’ feet—an act of loving service. Then, Jesus issues a new commandment to his disciples to love others in the same way he loves them (John 13:34-35). He emphasizes the world will know them through their love for one another. I wonder if the disciples made the connection with washing feet and loving each other? Love is active, never passive.
Throughout this discourse, Jesus reveals God’s nature as self-giving love. This distinction is important because the God revealed in Jesus Christ is unlike the gods worshiped by pagans. Pagan gods demanded their followers make a sacrifice to demonstrate their loyalty. Yet, our God is the one who sacrifices to show his love and commitment to us. God makes the sacrifice as a sign of his love for us. If we are to love others as he loves us, then we are to sacrifice for the wellbeing of others.
We don’t give because we’re trying to appease God; we give because we’re trying to love like our God. Love is self-giving because love can do no other.
This week begins our fall stewardship series on “No Greater Love.” Over the next four weeks, Terry and I will teach about self-giving love like God’s love for us. This week we’ll explore setting priorities as a way of ordering our lives around love. Week two focuses on developing the necessary disciplines for living lives of love that reflect our priorities. Week three focuses on compassion and the importance of serving one another in love. Finally, week four highlights the extravagant and generous giving that reflects a life of love. We hope each of us will gain greater clarity about how love compels us to give of ourselves in every way—in giving our time, attention, energy, and financial resources.
On Sunday, October 31st, we’ll celebrate the day as we receive your pledges for the 2022 ministry year. Please spend time in prayer asking God how you will participate in this year’s stewardship campaign? Every estimate of giving makes a difference regardless of size because everything you offer is a gift of love. Love always has an impact, and we’re grateful for the many ways you have already made a difference.
Reach out to Terry Stubblefield or me if you have any questions about the importance of giving to God through the church. We would love to talk with you and pray with you as you consider your giving for 2022.