Reading

1 John 3:16-18  We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. 17 How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? 18 Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.
 

Reflection

Today is Good Friday. It is jarring to think of the day Jesus died as “good,” but it is called “good” because of the good it accomplished for others. It is good because it reveals to us the lengths the love of God has gone to demonstrate how much God cares for humanity (see Rom 5:8). John reflects on the nature of love as something that we know. The phrase “he laid down his life for us” is like one of those Russian dolls in that it keeps on giving. As my friend Joseph McAuley says, “The Gospel is always better than you’ve just realised.” What we know is encapsulated in the gospel, the story of Jesus and how he came, lived, taught, loved, and gave his life for those whom he deeply and sincerely loves. Moreover, this provides the foundation for action.
 
We ought to lay down our lives for one another. But how do we do that? Well, it begins with daily acts of giving. You see, generosity is not just something we regularly do, it is a character trait; it is part of our identity. Generosity is meant to be an identity marker, a way of telling the world, this is what God is like. The most outrageous and significant example of generosity that we have is found in the story of the gospel, the story of the one true God who sent Jesus to rescue us from our destruction. Because God’s love has been revealed and received in Jesus, it transforms us so that we are now willing to love others the way Jesus loved. For John, such love must be expressed tangibly in concrete acts of care, concern and commitment, i.e., generosity. When we see someone in need, our response must be to love. We can be generous with our time, talents, possessions and money. But we must be committed to loving one another, because that’s what Jesus did and does for us. Because that is the kind of people, Jesus is forming and transforming us to be, those who imitate his concrete acts of care, concern and commitment. 
 
What does this have to do with consumption? Everything actually. By placing our attention on the care, concern and commitment to others, we will inevitably shape our attitudes and practices around how we consume, whom we share with, and why we consume. The cross of Jesus shows us a way to love that is focussed on the well-being and flourishing of others. The story of Jesus, our good news, is good news not only because we are the recipients but because it gives us an example of what love looks like and how it can benefit others.
 

Prayer

Generous God, we thank you for Jesus’ life, teaching, example and ultimately, his death. We thank you for the demonstration of love that the cross reveals. We relish the fact that you care for us so much, that you are concerned and committed to us. Today, a sombre day for sure, we are humbled by how much you sacrificed. We are grateful for the love that you gave. We ask that you would transform us so that we may love as you love.
 

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