Greater love has no one than this….

There are some great actions that make us stop and think. Or at least they should make us stop and think. To simply pass over these significant events is to trivialize what is important, or fail to engage with reality.

At the time of writing a healthcare worker involved in the treatment of an Ebola virus patient has been reported as becoming infected. This time it is someone in the USA, for a person who hasn’t been in the country of the virus’ origin. It highlights the costly nature of providing treatment for those who are infected. It flags up the self-sacrificial nature of those involved in healthcare as something we might admittedly take for granted all too easily. A similar thing could be said for the troops in battlegrounds who face danger each day and may make the ultimate sacrifice. We know that it takes great courage to do this. We know that we are indebted to them.

The act of self-sacrificial service points us towards the nature of divine love: it is in the very nature of God’s love to give at cost to himself. Jesus explained the extent of his love for others, which would take him to the cross, when he said to his followers: “Greater love has no-one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command” (John 15v13-14). Jesus spoke of his own death on the cross  as being the only treatment for our sin sick souls – he alone could be the doctor who could take away our sin. Jesus’ death on a cross was a battle he alone could fight on our behalf. He emerged from this battle as the victorious one, having defeated all evil. When he rose again from the dead it signalled the beginning of the end of evil in the world, but that would be one day in the future. The true cost of our enjoying spiritual health and spiritual peace was immense.

This November we will once again reflect on the great sacrifice made during the Wars, with special emphasis on the anniversary of WW1 in this centenary year. The occasion is a sombre one as we think of the extent of the sacrifice made. The occasion brings great sadness where personal losses are remembered. But may we also take time to be directed towards the redeeming love of Jesus Christ, the supreme sacrifice in order to reconcile us to God and one another?

Paul Kingman

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