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Jesus' radically self-giving love

April 16, 2024

Daily Scripture

John 15:9, 12-17, Revelation 1:5-6

John 15
9 “As the Father loved me, I too have loved you. Remain in my love.

12 This is my commandment: love each other just as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than to give up one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I don’t call you servants any longer, because servants don’t know what their master is doing. Instead, I call you friends, because everything I heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You didn’t choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you could go and produce fruit and so that your fruit could last. As a result, whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you. 17 I give you these commandments so that you can love each other.

Revelation 1
5 and from Jesus Christ—the faithful witness, the firstborn from among the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
To the one who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, 6 who made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father—to him be glory and power forever and always. Amen.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

New Testament Christians wrote often that Jesus’ blood saved us (cf. Romans 3:25, Ephesians 2:13, Hebrews 9:14 and 12:24, 1 John 1:7 and Revelation 1:5). There is divine mystery, and lots of varied ideas, about exactly how that works—but no mistaking the teaching that, spiritually, the blood Jesus shed in a radical act of self-giving saves us. Bishop Michael Curry wrote that Jesus showed “what love looks like; giving of the self, even sacrificing the self for the good and well-being of others.” *

  • Jesus began John 15:9 with ten key words: “As the Father loved me, I too have loved you.” Our love for others reflects God’s love for us the way the moon reflects the sun’s light. In what practical ways do you live out your commitment to love God and others? To what extent are you able to view self-giving, not self-gratification, as key to the kind of radical love that makes life genuinely worth living? How can our church be, above all, a living model of God’s love for all people?

  • Suppose you invited a non-religious friend to join you at church, and he or she asked, “Why should I go to your church?” Would you talk about our big buildings, beautiful Leawood window, Christmas Eve offering, multiple locations, awards for community service, superb sermons, and/or wonderful music? How likely would you be to adopt Jesus’ way of answering that question: “This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other”?


O Lord, help me not to pretend to love as an outward disguise to hide my anger or pain. Let me love from my heart as your love overflows and bubbles out of me to bless others. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Brandon Gregory

Brandon Gregory

Brandon Gregory is a volunteer for the worship and missions teams at Church of the Resurrection. He helps lead worship at Leawood's modern worship services, as well as at the West and Downtown services, and is involved with the Malawi missions team at home.

In America, racial integration in schools happened as early as 1948, but started gaining momentum in the late 50s and early 60s. In one early case, the Little Rock Nine in 1957, nine black students were enrolled in a previously segregated school in Little Rock. Upon arriving at the school, they were barred from entry—by the Governor of Arkansas. President Eisenhower had to deploy the 101st Airborne Division and the Arkansas National Guard to ensure the safe passage of these nine brave students to school. That was 76 years ago and may feel like ancient history to some of us, but listening to the recent experiences of black people in white-dominated spaces reveals that there are still times even today that black people don’t feel safe. This is a stark example, but it illustrates a point: there’s a big difference between allowing someone into a space and providing them a safe space and a spot at the table.

I’m happy to say that Resurrection has been the most welcoming and accepting church I’ve ever been to. The people here impress me with their willingness to learn and their drive to love their communities. That said, the broader Christian church, in American history, has sometimes been on the side of the oppressor. Additionally, there are many churches today that are not as accepting and welcoming as we are, and many people have been and continue to be excluded from and hurt by the Christian church.

When I started learning about systemic oppression and injustice, I initially tried to decouple the injustice from the institution. If I saw a man who disrespected women, I would tell myself that’s not how real men behave. If I saw a Christian telling people they didn’t belong in their church, I would tell myself that’s not how real Christians behave. My reasoning for doing this was not noble. I didn’t want to admit that a lot of the people keeping injustice alive looked a lot like me. That didn’t make me guilty by any means; however, distancing myself from the problem was essentially me washing my hands of the matter rather than taking responsibility for fixing it. Simply saying, “Not me!” appeased my conscience and was much easier than using my voice—a voice that many oppressed people didn’t have—to work toward a solution.

With the Methodist denomination recently having made the decision to be fully accepting of the LGBTQ community, it can be easy for many of us to look at the issue as I did in my younger years: Christians excluding LGBTQ people aren’t “real” Christians, but we’re OK—we don’t do that. The reality is that simply opening our doors and allowing certain people in does not heal the wounds that have been inflicted from decades of exclusion from the church. And the LGBTQ community is not the only group with wounds from the church. People suffering mental illness and addiction, people from different socioeconomic groups, and many others may not feel entirely welcome because of past experiences at church.

I will fully admit that I am not the best person to be talking about systemic oppression. As a man, it can be hard for me to see the subtle ways in which women are excluded or disrespected. As a white-passing person, it can be hard for me to see the places where racism makes black and indigenous people of color feel unsafe. As a cis-gender heterosexual person, it can be hard for me to see the small but significant ways that churches and many other places are designed to make me feel comfortable while those in the LGBTQ community feel excluded. These things are not my fault; but as a person who has more of a voice in those communities, they are my responsibility. The best thing I can do is not just immediately jump in and start doing what I think is right. Instead, I need to step back and listen, being humble and willing to change what I think while listening to people who may not feel welcome about what they experience.

So, going back to the original question in today’s GPS: what would I say to a friend that asked me why they should go to my church? My hope is that I wouldn’t talk about myself at all—I wouldn’t talk about how much money I gave at the Christmas Eve service, or how much I volunteer at the church, or what a great person I am. Instead, what I would like to talk about is how much I listen to the people around me—the people who don’t always feel welcome among people who look a lot like me but have never had much of a voice in those communities. I would like to talk about how we’re not just a church that opens its doors, but one that invites others to the table, to be a part of the discussions that inform our church and decide where we should focus our efforts. I can’t say I do this perfectly—in some ways, I’m not even aware of the ways I’m falling short. But even as someone who admittedly has a lot to learn, this is my aspiration.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* Curry, Bishop Michael. The Power of Love (p. 19). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.