Walking the Way of the CrossDaily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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.
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" (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.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER 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?
PRAYER: Gracious God, for your supreme act of love through Christ, I give you thanks and praise. O Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for loving me and giving up yourself for me.
Teach me, Lord, how to love others in this way. Help me when I'd rather not love so sacrificially. Open my heart to those around me who are in need. Quicken my spirit so I might extend myself to them.
And, as I do, may I worship you. May I come to see my life – my whole life – as one big opportunity to glorify you, indeed, to live for the praise of your glory. Amen.
Performance vs. Potential
The gap between performance and potential is far from neutral. On the positive side, it inspires. Think of the young professional who sees her future self in a seasoned colleague and dreams of achieving great things for God. Optimism and drive mark this view. On the negative side, however, the gap can be as haunting as it is illusory. Haunting because it confirms just how much we come up short; illusory because the gap tortures us with false truths about rank and value. For those who suffer the latter, even Jesus’ promise to be sufficient in our weakness goes unheard.
In The High Calling series on Performance vs. Potential, we’re taking an honest look at both perspectives. Will you join us? Whether you’re a dreamer seeking growth, or a doubter seeking peace, we believe you’ll be encouraged by what you read.
Image above by Vicky Shirley. Used with Permission. Via Flickr.