One of my favorite summary statements of what it means to live as a disciple of Jesus is in 1 John 4:19 . . .
“We love because He first loved us.”
God made the first move to love us by moving toward us in Jesus. That love moves us to vertical love for Him and horizontal love for others. The cross-shaped love of Jesus creates in us a cross-shaped love that reaches up to God, reaches around to our brothers and sisters in Christ, and reaches out to our neighbors, the nations, and the next generation.
The Apostle Paul put it another way in Galatians 5:6 . . .
“The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself in love.”
FAITH . . . resting in, responding to, and relying upon Jesus, the One who loves me and gave Himself for me (Galatians 2:20) . . . will (it has to!) express itself in love from me for God and for others.
Now, put the two verses together: “Faith in God’s first loving us will express itself in our loving Him and others.”
I like to think of it this way, “When by faith I fill up on God’s love for me in Jesus, I will overflow with a Jesus-like love back to God and out to people in the places He’s put me.”
This is the essence of cruciform discipleship: I am crucified and cruciform with Christ. The life I now live of lovingly giving myself for God and others, I live by resting in, responding to, and relying upon the love of Jesus, who loved me first by giving Himself for me (Galatians 2:20, 5:6; 1 John 4:19).