How much do you have to love someone before you will die for them? There’s a philosophical principle which says that innate to our humanity is a sense of compassion for others, and that in the face of a crisis, the instinct that drives us to protect others becomes greater than that which drives us to protect ourselves. This is why, according to this philosophy, one person will sacrifice his own safety, and even his very life, to help someone else escape, even when those people are unknown to him.
There are many examples where we see this to be the case. But if this is true, then what do we make of Jesus’ words in John 15:13, when He says that there is no greater love than for a man to lay down his life for his friends? This is something I’ve been thinking about, because I think there is much more to this statement than we ever consider.
I think that Jesus was using this opportunity to foreshadow His coming crucifixion. But notice that He didn’t camp out on that. He mentions this concept of laying down your life in the greater context of obedience and of devotion to Him. And, as I’ve been thinking about this passage, I’ve come to believe that those two things may in fact be the greater sacrifice for us, especially in light of Jesus’ words in Luke 16:24 about discipleship requiring us to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him.
I may believe that it is noble for me to declare that I would gladly give my life to keep one of my loved ones from losing theirs. I may be willing to take a bullet or run into the path of a speeding train to save another person.
But am I willing to put down my phone and make eye contact with the person? Am I willing to alter my schedule to spend time with that person? Parents, are you willing to stop feeding your bodies junk food so that you can have more energy to spend with your little ones? Are you willing to set your alarm an hour earlier so you can spend time with Jesus before you start your day? Are we willing to reconcile broken relationships? Are we willing to keep our opinions to ourselves for the sake of protecting the reputation of another person? Are you willing to get over your whole “church is for hypocrites” excuse for your neglect of corporate worship and show up at church for your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we willing to more carefully budget our money so we can give generously?
There are so many other ways that we lay down our lives, that we deny ourselves, that don’t involve actually dying. Yes, the big life-or-death choices matter, but so do the little choices that we face everyday. And do you find, as do I, that we often count those little choices as irrelevant and tend to overlook their importance?
Maybe this is a little preachy, and if it comes off like that I apologize. I suppose it’s just how I preach to myself- because, Lord knows, sometimes I need all the preaching I can get! It’s just something I’ve been thinking about for awhile. Like everyone, I want my death to matter, but you know, I want my life to matter, too. A life lived for myself matters only to me, so my prayer is that the Lord will use these verses to teach me to live for Him and for others.
One response to “Rethinking Life & Death”
Very thoughtful; great insights. Strong tie-in with the many “one another” verses in the New Testament.