Posts Tagged Sacrifice

What Can We Learn from "Time" Magazine's Person of the Year
Source Credit: Time Magazine’s 2014 person of the year
by Roger Severino       

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus instructed His followers to “let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Though we are not to be motivated by the lure of receiving praise from people for our own glory (see Matthew 6:1-18), Jesus does want His people to live in a way that is attractive, brings light to the world, and causes people to reflect positively on our God. Though we may feel that the many good deeds and expressions of mercy practiced by Christians in our world are often unreported or under-reported, there are times when the media and our culture stand up and take notice.
Who is Time Magazine’s 2014 person of the year? Answer: The Ebola Fighters. As you glance through the pages, you hear the stories of such people as Dr. Jerry Brown (Liberian surgeon who practices at the Eternal Love Winning Africa ministry), Dr. Debbie Eisenhut (SIM missionary), Dr. Kent Brantley (missionary with Samaritan’s Purse), and Nancy Writebol (medical aid with SIM). These are believers who risked their own lives serving others in the name of Christ, some of whom contracted the Ebola virus in the process. Though the article included heroic efforts by others who did not necessarily identify themselves as Christians, evangelical believers were well represented in this secular magazine. What are some lessons we can glean from this?

  1. The Power of Calling to Serve. Most of the believers who treated Ebola patients were already there serving out their calling. They did not come in to perform heroic deeds before the cameras; they were simply living out what they believed God had called them to do. They were being salt and light in their own sphere of ministry. When the dangerous venture came before them, they did not flee. At risk to their own lives, they were the hands and feet of Jesus bringing healing to others. Every believer is called to serve Christ and His Kingdom in some way. It may not be overtly risky like treating Ebola patients, but you are called to be faithful even when it may get costly. Regardless of where you get your paycheck, you are called to full-time Christian service as a follower of Jesus.
  2. The Power of Action that Accompanies Words. Jesus was powerful in both word and deed. Sometimes we try to drive a wedge between whether we shine our light by our words or by our deeds. We need both. We need words to communicate the good news that is found in Jesus. We need actions that authenticate our words and demonstrate to a weary and wary world the validity of our faith. You’ve heard the phrase “talk is cheap”? These Christian Ebola fighters demonstrated love and sacrifice as they treated their patients. The world may be cynical about religious talk, but they can’t help but take notice when they see examples like these.
  3. The Power of Faith over Fear. Human nature is prone to respond in fear. When the Ebola virus reached our shores through those who contracted the disease, you could almost sense a mass hysteria in our nation. Is there reason for concern and caution? Sure. Should we be wise in keeping ourselves and our loved ones from unnecessarily harmful circumstances? Yes. But so many of us are captive to our fears that we lack the ability to demonstrate faith. People are watching us. How will we respond to the next national crisis? How will we react when the next epidemic breaks out? Will followers of Jesus be known for a response dictated by fear? Or, like those in this article, will we respond as a people who believe in a sovereign God and a people who follow a Savior who was willing to serve others and suffer for others?


by Roger Severino  

[vimeo 110025908 w=640 h=360] 
When I was a teenager, my youth pastor gave me a working definition of love that I have used through the years. “Love is sincerely desiring God’s best for another and doing what I can to see that accomplished.” I have found that to be a pretty good summary of biblical love. Here are five things we learn about love from the Bible.

  1. Love is the Essence of What God Requires. When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandments were, he referenced two, and they both relate to love. We are called to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and we are to love our neighbor (this does not exclude anyone) as we love ourselves (and the assumption is that we do love and take care of ourselves). What is the essence of our calling and purpose in life? To love well the right things – God and others.
  2. God is Love. 1 John 4:8 tells us that the one who does not love does not know God because God is love. Therefore, when we read the descriptors of love in 1 Corinthians 13 – love is patient, kind, not conceited or selfish, forgives, bears all things, etc. – we get a glimpse of the character of God. Now, it is not accurate to turn this phrase around and say that “love is God,” and then create a god from our notion of what we think love is. In this scenario, you end up with an idol of your own making. But the truth is that the nature of God is love. Jesus shows us the nature and character of God the Father (see John 14:9) and Jesus shows us the nature of love.
  3. We Love Because God First Loved Us (see 1 John 4:19). We don’t have the capacity to love well in our own strength. Just as the moon reflects the light of the sun and does not have light in itself, so we too are reflectors of God’s love. That means we must first be willing to receive the love that God has for us in Christ. Once we receive it, we have the opportunity and command to love others. Love initiates. God demonstrated His love towards us in that while we were still rebels against Him, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). We love because He first loved us.
  4. Love is Sacrificial. How did God demonstrate His love according to Romans 5:8? At great cost! The Bible tells us that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself (2 Cor. 5:19). “For God so loved the world that He gave…” (John 3:16). Love is giving and sacrificial. Most of what we see in pop culture that defines love is conditional: “I love you because…”, “I love you if…”, “I love you when…” Love in our world is often an emotion, and often a selfish one. We love when someone benefits us. This is not the essence of God’s love.
  5. Love is a Quality not an Emotion. One of the most radical things Jesus taught His followers was to love their enemies. It is difficult to find this teaching in any of the great ancient philosophies or religions. Godly love initiates and is not dependent on the worthiness of the receiver. Love is a characteristic and quality in the hearts of those who follow Jesus and allow His love to flow through them. How will you love others well today?