[Jesus said,]â€œThis is my command: Love each other as I have loved you. The greatest love a person can show is to die for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.â€ Â Â John 15:12-14 (NCV)
Do you have a friend that you would die for? Is there someone in your life besides a parent, sibling, spouse or child or grandchild that you would die so that they could live?
My husband is ex-military. He tells me that when you train together like the crew that he was a part of, you know that the guy next to you would step in front of a bullet for you. There is a trust that is forged in the heat of their training for battle against a common enemy.
And so it is within Christ’s Body of Believers. When you have faced a common enemy, satan and his minions, and through prayer and unity bloodied their noses and sent them away limping, you know that you have forged a trusting relationship with Jesus and, hopefully, with each other. Trust comes with continued time together. We are together on this Vine that Jesus spoke about earlier in the same chapter of John. We are branches attached to the same Vine.
Jesus tells us to stay attached to Him so that we learn; we imitate Him. And then He takes it a step further as He foretells what He is going to do. He is going to die for His friends. He is going to freely lay down His life for His friends.
Am I willing to lay down my life? Am I willing to lay it down maybe even in a more difficult way than physically dying. Am I willing to die to what I want so that another might live? What are some specific ways I might do that?
Fellowship. I remember at one church we attended, the worship leader loved to play much more loud praise music than I would have enjoyed on a Sunday morning. I liked it a bit more mellow and worshipful. But the new people that were coming into the church, new ones every week, they were of the demographic that really liked the music a bit louder. They kept coming back maybe at first because of that. They stayed in the long term for the Word and the discipleship that was happening. I could go home and play my quiet CDs. I didn’t need to complain and raise a fuss. God was surely showing His fruit by what was happening.
Time. I know a couple that spends a lot of time with people who are â€œyoungâ€ in their relationship with God. They invite them over for bar-b-q and watch sports together. They show by their daily walk in their family what it means to live a life with Jesus Christ. They give so others may strengthen and grow.
First I have to open my eyes to see the opportunities that God puts into my life to lay down my life for someone else. I have to get my eyes off myself and look to the needs of others (Philippians 2:3-8) just as Jesus did.
It’s interesting to me that this passage is followed with Jesus telling His disciples that the world is going to hate them just as it hates Him. He reminds them again about the Counselor coming to remind them of all that He has taught them. Let us remember that it is in unity that we will find strength for the difficult days ahead. Whether it is economic collapse or floods and hurricanes or fire or disease and death, together we can hold each other up in prayer and serve each other through the healing balm of love that is in Jesus.
Who is my brother, my sister, my friend? It is the one who seeks and serves with me in the Kingdom of God (Mark 3:33-35).
He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother by Bobby Scott and Bob Russell (1969)