Greater love has no man than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. (John 15:13)
Hmm…let’s try a less poetic version. [bunny-trail] The Williams Translation, which, although not very well known, is one of the most accurate layman’s-language translation out there because it’s not a paraphrase. [/bunny-trail]
No one can show greater love than this, the giving of his life for his friends.
Why so fussy about the translation? Normally I’m not that persnickety. Bear with me; I have my reasons for it today. First though, I’d like to share something that a friend said to me:
“You know, people can get so focused on dying for Christ that they forget to live for Him.”
Anybody see the connection there? Maybe it’s just me and my crazy brain again… Basically, my thought is this – what if (and only what if – I won’t even pretend I know what I’m talking about; if you think I’m completely off my rocker, just say so) this ‘laying down one’s life for his friends’ thing is not meaning literally dying? Just what if? What if it is ‘giving of his life’ instead? See the difference? What if Jesus meant for us to give parts of our lives away in the form of time, attention, effort? What if He really wanted us to sacrifice our petty interests and pride for the sake of another? What if that’s what love really means?
After all, I think you’ll agree, if we all took the verse literally we’d end up all being dead. *Chuckles* So…what if? What if we died to our desires for our friend’s sake? What if we gave of our lives? Do you think that would be more awe-inspiring to the rest of the world than a bunch of graves or monuments to people who sacrificed their lives for others? I do. After all…which is really more noble, heroically dying for someone else’s sake, or humiliating yourself for the sake of someone who doesn’t deserve it? Which will make the bigger impact on someone? It’s certainly much flashier to go the dying route. After all, it’s only a one-time instance, and it makes you look “soooo noble and good and kind!” And who wants to humiliate themselves anyways? The aftereffects are much more long-lasting. People will remember it. “Did you see that?? He just made himself look like a complete idiot!”
What I find incredible is that Jesus didn’t do one or the other. He did both. He died the most humiliating death, and all for us who didn’t deserve it. Wow… I just can’t get over that! So maybe – just maybe –there’s more to that verse than it looks like at first. Maybe He wants us to give of our lives not just give them up. Do you think? So I have a question for you. If you had the choice, which would you be willing to give up first, your life, or your image (and all the pride connected to it)? If you’re ready to die for someone, that’s great – but would you be able to humiliate yourself for them? I hope so. Because maybe, just maybe, that’s what love is really about.