Our prayer last week concerned ‘staying on the path of God’s love’. What does this mean? We know Christ’s teaching on the importance of love:
One of [the Pharisees], a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. ‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ He said to him, ‘ “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’ Matthew 22:35-40.
As we see in the parable of the good Samaritan, loving our neighbour was not just some sort of woolly aspiration. (Luke 10:25-37) It meant much more than this, including self-sacrifice. As we look towards Good Friday, we may remember what Jesus said to his disciples: ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.’ (Luke 9:23-24 and Matthew 16:24-25). Jesus himself ‘took up the cross’ by accepting the brutal execution practised in the Roman Empire, crucifixion.
What might this mean for us? In our love for God and our neighbour, we are unlikely to be faced with such a brutal challenge, but there is a lot we can do to fight for our faith and our principles, remembering to start by tackling our own failings! We might prefer to take the easy course, to do nothing and hope that the problem goes away. Jesus asks us to take his example and ‘take up our cross’.
Lord Jesus, help us to remember the agony you suffered in order to follow God’s way.
May we follow your teaching and stand up for what is right. Amen.