John 15:13: Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends...
We know this verse well. We know it as the role model for serving, for marriage, for ministry.
But since most of us aren't called to actually sacrifice our lives for others in the context of our comfortable first world environments, it's a rather hazy guideline when you compare it to what you actually do day by day.
A sermon I heard recently posited an interpretation of this phrase which helped me apply it to my 21st century life and context.
If we see life as the time we have here, then laying down our life for others happens every time we give our time to others, to serve them, to help them, to encourage them, to be with them, and even just to listen to them. When we sacrifice our Saturday evenings to prepare Sunday School lessons or Bible study materials. When we spend hours in the kitchen cooking for someone coming over or travel to deliver some food. When we're on a long phone call, listening quietly, changing the phone from side to side as each ear gets hot and flattened. When we craft a long, personal message and plan a meet up.
I think of Christ, in His short time here, knowing exactly how long He had, laying down His life for us even before His death on the cross, by giving His time/life to each person He ministered to. With that perspective, we see the selflessness and magnitude of His love foreshadowed in each touch of His hand, each time He waved away the disciples' agonized 'But Master--we don't have time for that--'; each time He beckoned gently, laying aside His own needs and wants.
When He healed the woman with the discharge, on His way to Jairus' house, struggling through a massive crowd of people pushing and pulling at Him, urging Him to hurry up and do His stuff, He stopped and gave her those precious five minutes which changed her life. Without dismissing her. Without worrying. Without begrudging her for detracting from a seemingly more important task or need, or resenting her timing (which I'm afraid sounds illogical but is nevertheless very human.)
When He met the Samaritan woman at the well, humanly speaking a heart-to-heart-talk about morality and religion was probably the last thing He felt like doing. It was hot. He was tired, and thirsty (the chances of my striking up an intense, long, personal conversation when I'm tired, but especially when I'm thirsty, are rather slim!) If it had been me, I would definitely have treasured that precious lull of inactivity in the midst of a hectic and draining day, to close my eyes or rest my voice or simply stone in exhaustion. Some much-needed downtime that one didn't have to feel guilty about. Instead, He engrossed Himself in her personal story and needs, taking the double effort necessary to interact with a stranger from a different background and culture on a personal and potentially sensitive subject. Without becoming embittered when she initially reacted by becoming defensive. Without trying to impress His sacrifice on her so she could be properly grateful for it.
Imagine, He knew exactly how many minutes He had here.
We don't know that, but we do know our time is limited.
How did Christ use His time, knowing this, and how does that knowledge affect what we do with ours?
a small voice
Ci thinks some of God's greatest blessings to mankind are
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