There is a flower more exquisite than any found on earth. The purity of its white hue, the fragrance of its perfume, the permanency of its bloom compares with nothing else. I speak figuratively of the Christian way of love. It is the fruit of the faith, the hallmark of Christian belief.

Christian love is not necessarily a warm fuzzy love nor is it simply an affirming love. It is a love that is self-sacrificing. It is love that considers the interests of others as one’s own and is even willing to sacrifice one’s interest for the sake of the loved.

Jesus demonstrated this love in many ways. On the night of his arrest, he took a towel and began washing his disciples feet. He was their teacher, there rabbi-like figure. Washing feet was the job of a servant. But Jesus performs this humbling act to teach his disciples how they are to live in this world.

“Just as I have loved you, so you ought to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another (John 13:34).” It was really a small act. It foreshadowed a greater one, for he would soon do more than just wash their filthy feet with water, he would purify their souls with his precious blood shed on a cross.

The early church historian Luke summarized what was going on in the church in its earliest years, “…from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need (Acts 4:35).”

The second century Roman historian Diognetus forwarded a report about the behavior of Christians in the Empire, “They love all men and by all men they are persecuted… They are poor, and yet they make many rich; they are completely destitute, and yet they enjoy complete abundance…”

This type of self-sacrificing love does not come natural to us. The soul needs to be purified at its root to love like this.

The free gift of the gospel does this to those who receive it. From the imperishable seed of the gospel, comes the purified root, then the stem and finally love. If you want to love like you have always wanted, put your hope in the gospel and let love bloom.

The Rev. Michael A. Birbeck is pastor of the First Presbyterian Church Wellsboro.