By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren, 1 John 3:16.
Andrew Murray, commenting on this verse writes:
“The cross of Christ is the measure by which we know how much Christ loves us. The cross is also the measure of the love which we owe to those around us. It is only as the love of Christ on the cross possesses our hearts and daily animates our whole being, that we shall be able to love our brothers and sisters in Christ. Our fellowship in the cross of Christ is to manifest itself in our sacrifice of love, not only to Christ himself, but to all who belong to him.
“The life to which John calls us here is something entirely supernatural and divine. It is only the faith of Christ himself living in us that can enable us to accept this great command assured that Christ himself will work it out in us….
“But for such fellowship and conformity to the death of Christ, nothing will do but the daily, unbroken abiding in Christ Jesus which he has promised us. By the Holy Spirit revealing and glorifying Christ in us, we may trust Christ himself to live out his life in us.”
Our call is to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect, Matthew 5:48. This is not a mountain to climb but rather a life to enter into; yet it is not only a life to enter into but also a life that enters into us. This call to live as Jesus is not simply asking, “What would Jesus do?” It is rather knowing what Jesus is doing and how He is working and living in us (Philippians 2:12 – 13). Our lives are built on a foundation both timeless and historical; timeless in that we were chosen before the foundation of the world, historical in that Jesus Christ was born, lived, died, and was raised from the dead. However, our lives in Christ are more than rooted in that which is beyond the mists of time, and they are more than historical events that occurred some two thousand years ago; our lives in Christ are in the present as He lives in us and as we abide in Him – for unless we abide in Him we will bear no fruit, indeed, unless we abide in Him there will be no life in us (John 15).
This is not a ladder to ascend as if we are to measure up to God’s expectations or as if we are playing king of a spiritual hill; it is a relationship – a wedding of our souls and spirits to Jesus Christ, a union with Him that causes us to rejoice in the great New Testament term “in Christ”. This is an expectation as we begin each day anew that we begin it “in Christ” and that we will live it “in Christ” and that throughout the day we will live in fellowship with Him and with His people…and that we will also have opportunity to lay our lives down for others.
It is an affirmation and realization that Jesus Christ is indeed Emmanuel, God with us.