Be imitators of God, 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)
Yesterday, I began to discuss hymn 119 in the Amish Ausbund, a text sung (I believe) by the Amish during foot-washing services. The text does an excellent job of describing some of the many ways Jesus gave himself up for us, and how and why we need to follow Christ’s example. Here is a rough (very rough!) paraphrase of this 25-verse hymn text:
Our desire to achieve perfection in Christ marks us as his righteous ones; this is what God desires for us. He wants us to live in peace and unity, always working, always ready. Christ calls out to us weary ones, and tells us that he will lead us into his Father’s kingdom, to eternal peace, joy, and great unity. Here on earth, we must try to do our Father’s will as will be done in the kingdom of heaven, mortifying the flesh now that it might be renewed later, diligently sweeping out the old leaven, so Christ’s goodness might be implanted in us.
We especially see this in the Christ’s example of service: he did not come to be served, but to serve that we might have life. In great humility and lowliness, he demonstrated this by washing the feet of his disciples, and tells us we should take this to heart and do likewise. His love extended even to his death on the cross.
So, if we wish to be like Christ, we must love one another at all times, in deed and not only in words. If we have any of the world’s goods, and see our brother in need, we must respond quickly. If we are faithful in small things now, we will be entrusted with greater things later.
Paul shows us that if we do not seek our own, we will find true humility and thus glorify God truly. We must have the mind of Christ, who did not consider himself equal to God, but sought to be our servant. He came to earth, showing his love and humility; we should act likewise. Then, we will attain to pure love and unity in the Spirit, one in the bond of peace.
Brothers and Sisters, since we are all members of one body, we should prove faithful by loving one another and thereby praising God, for God has provided love in all things. Anything done without love helps no one. If you neglect your neighbor (who we can see), how can we say we love God (whom we cannot see)?
God, we ask that you not fail us in our distress, but make a way for us to love courageously.