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2.5 A Legacy of Love
Love as the Hallmark of True Christianity: A Legacy of Compassion and Selflessness
Read John 13:35 and 1 John 4:21. What do these verses reveal about the challenge to God’s rule by Satan in the Great Controversy? What do they tell us about the nature of true Christianity?
The mentioned Bible verses and historical accounts illustrate the essence of true Christianity and how the Christian community responds to challenges and temptations.
John 13:35 says, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
1 John 4:21 says, “And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” These verses emphasize the central importance of love in Christian identity. Love is not just a feeling but manifests itself in concrete acts of care, service, and selflessness, especially towards the needy and the suffering.
The historical accounts cited by Tertullian and Rodney Stark about early Christians during epidemics show how this love was put into action. Instead of fearing the disease and associated risks, Christians showed courage, willingness to sacrifice, and deep compassion for their fellow human beings. They saw the image of God in every sick and needy person and acted accordingly.
This response of Christians to the challenges of their time shows us what true Christianity is about:
  1. Selfless Love: True Christianity is characterized by selfless love that goes beyond one’s own needs and securities and actively works for the welfare of others.
  2. Courage and Willingness to Sacrifice: True Christianity shows courage and a willingness to take risks to help others and spread the Gospel of love and hope.
  3. Practical Neighborly Love: True Christianity is expressed not only in words but primarily in acts of care, support, and solidarity towards the needy and the suffering.
In summary, these Bible verses and historical accounts reveal that true Christianity is characterized by love expressed in concrete acts of care, service, and selflessness. In times of challenges and temptations, the true face of Christianity becomes visible when believers act courageously and sacrificially to help others and bring God’s love into the world.
What is the obvious message for us here? How can we learn to die to self so that we too can embody this selfless spirit? It’s not easy, is it?
The obvious message for us is that true Christianity is characterized by selfless love, which is expressed in concrete acts of care, service, and selflessness. This love is particularly evident in times of challenges and temptations when believers act courageously and sacrificially to help others and bring God’s love into the world.
The “dying to self” is a central concept in the Christian faith and refers to the need to set aside one’s ego, selfishness, and personal desires and needs to truly love God and neighbor. Jesus taught his disciples to take up their cross and follow Him, meaning that we should be ready to deny ourselves and serve others for their well-being (Matthew 16:24). Indeed, dying to self and embodying this selfless spirit is not easy. It requires constant self-reflection, a sincere effort to free oneself from selfish tendencies and motives, and a continuous reliance on God’s grace and power.
Here are some steps and approaches that can help us to die to self and embody this selfless spirit:
  1. Daily Self-Reflection and Prayer: Take time to reflect on your behavior, motives, and attitudes. Ask God for help in cleansing your heart and giving you the strength to love selflessly.
  2. Study of Scripture: Immerse yourself in the teachings of the Bible and be inspired by the examples and teachings of Jesus and the apostles. Scripture can teach and encourage us on how to live in love and selflessness.
  3. Community with Other Believers: Surround yourself with people who are examples of selfless love. Community and mutual encouragement are crucial for growing in faith and learning to love selflessly.
  4. Practical Service: Actively look for opportunities to serve others and meet their needs. Practical service and helping others can help us to die to self and grow in love.
  5. Cultivate Humility: Recognize that we all are fallible and constantly in need of God’s grace. Cultivate a humble attitude that is willing to learn from others and change.
It is true that dying to self and living in selfless love is a lifelong journey and challenge. But with God’s help, grace, and the support of a community of believers, we can grow and become more like Christ. It is a process of sanctification where we constantly learn, grow, and change to become more like Jesus.

The connection between our daily life and Christian faith lies in the practical application of Christian principles and values in our daily lives. If we want to be true Christians, we must live these principles of love, selflessness, and care not only in special moments or under certain conditions but in every aspect of our lives. Here are some practical steps on how we can realize these principles in our daily lives:
  1. Love in Family and Community: Start by unconditionally loving your family, friends, and community members. Show compassion, understanding, and support in everyday situations.
  2. Selfless Service: Regularly seek opportunities to serve others, whether through simple acts like sharing time or resources, listening, or supporting needs.
  3. Righteous Action: Live according to the ethical and moral values of Christianity in your profession, school, and community. Be a role model for integrity, honesty, and justice.
  4. Prayer and Spiritual Practice: Integrate prayer, meditation, and Bible study into your daily schedule. This will help you stay connected with God and seek His guidance and strengthening in your life.
  5. Community and Collaboration: Collaborate with other believers to achieve common goals and projects aimed at helping others and building God’s kingdom on earth.
  6. Constant Self-Reflection: Regularly take time to review your life, evaluate your relationships, and see where you can grow and improve to become more like Christ.
Living in harmony with these principles is certainly challenging and requires constant effort, dedication, and God’s grace. But over time and with constant practice, these principles become a natural part of our character and identity as Christians. It is a journey of transformation and sanctification where we constantly strive to become more like Christ and reflect His love and mercy in the world.

True Christianity manifests itself through selfless love and practical service to others.

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