I was listening to a podcast with Tom Oord (an old Homebrewed episode from a year or two ago) and Tom was talking about a book he had written with another guy, a short think piece on the Gospel.
He was talking about how God not only loves us, but wants us to truly live, and live more truly abundantly now and on into eternity.
However, my model for life is Jesus, who spent His life as an aspect of Kenosis, preparing to die horribly for three years. The bits where he's not preparing to die or talking about what comes afterward didn't make it into the bible, and as Hans says, our example of Love is Jesus.
So my model for life is Jesus dying. But as Oord says, the Gospel that we're given (to echo Bell in Love Wins) is not so much about what happens when we die, but what happens while we're here.
Now, from my observation, church can train me admirably to be more disciplined, more self aware, more self sacrificing, more compassionate, etc.
But it doesn't seem to be able to help me to figure out how to live, how to truly be myself, how to be anything that isn't self-emptying and eventually self-destructive. Mind you, I tend to have a very ontological approach to reality, so it's difficult for me to get out of these things.
But I can't figure out how to live out the Gospel according to what i've been taught all of my life in a way that has me actually living, here and now, as opposed to dying and waiting for my reward after death.
I know that there are people who will say "I've never felt more alive then when I laid down my life for others". I think that there are limits to how much you can lay down your life before you're just a doormat. Beyond that point...you're not really alive. You're just waiting.