"Greater love has no one than this, that a person will lay down his life for his friends." The author of the Gospel of John wrote this, attributing it to Jesus. As the story goes, he actually did just that - gave his life for his friends, and even people he never met. It's hard for me, sometimes, to make sense of this idea.
Some people say it's the price God needed to pay for human sin. But that makes zero sense to me. If God is so great, what could anyone ever do to appease such a need? Some will argue that only God could give an atoning sacrifice that was good enough for God. They use that to explain why God became incarnate in the very human Jesus of Nazareth. I used to think that made sense, in a mythical sort of way. But not any more.
I still believe in the incarnation, because that makes sense. As Richard Rohr put it, "God loves things by becoming them." I get that. As for the rest...I fear we might be overblowing it a bit in order to explain things that aren't really a part of the whole God loving and becoming one with us.
Love is a gift. But it's a gift that is both given and received. We can give it just as much as we can receive it. They are one in the same. God gave us a great gift, eternal and steadfast love that is both unconditional and freely given. We can accept it if we want it. Or not. But if we do accept it, then we have to share it in all the ways we show love to one another. Part of that is serving others. We do not do this to appease God. We do this to please others so that they will receive the gift of love and pay it forward.
Like the greatest Muhammad Ali is quoted as saying, "Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth." I would challenge you to give at least one hour a week of service to a local food pantry or shelter, perhaps a non-profit charity or a local religious organization. But to do so anonymously. Like Jesus told his students, "Don't let your right hand know what your left hand is doing."
An ex-copywriter turned punk rock pastor and peacemaker who dedicates his life to making the world a better place for all humanity.
"that they all might be one" ~John 17:21
“Prius vita quam doctrina.”
~ St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274)
* “Life is more important than doctrine.”