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Posts Tagged ‘#nogreaterlove’

The Apostle John wrote Jesus’ words, concerning love :

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

John 15:13

This is a verse that we pull out when one has done a sacrificial act to save another, when one dies in battle, when one jumps in the line of fire to save the life of another.

This is the depth of love that we remember on this fourth Sunday of Advent. It is the John 3:16 love,

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

The God of Creation was so desperate that our lives be redeemed, he committed the greatest act of love, sacrificing his own Son, so that we might live.

When I focus on this greater love, in these ways, it would seem that most of us do not even have opportunity to show this greater love. For who among us encounters opportunity or reason to give up our lives for another?

What if,
perhaps,
greater love means something more?

What if greater love means sacrificing beyond our physical lives?

What if we are given opportunity to express greater love when :

  • we make efforts to befriend the less popular, less appealing, prickly person in our class, in our workplace … in our church pew
  • we respond with loving-kindness, rather than setting people straight, when
  • we leave the coffee shop, see a man begging just up the sidewalk and we take out coffee to him (and go on our day without … feeling the sacrifice personally).
  • we listen … rather than speak
  • we make the time to make the meal, write the note, send a gift to one who is grieving, lonely, one who simply comes to mind
  • we say yes, when we want to say no
  • we offer grace and forgiveness, when revenge might be a just response
  • we believe what we are told, rather than reading in to what we think is meant
  • we keep persevering … investing even when relationships poke and push us
  • we get out of our comfort zone to love others in ways that communicate love most to them

This greater love is the anthesis to what our world preaches today about cancelling friends, relatives and groups of people because they haven’t lived up to what we believe they should say, how they should live, what they should think.

It is up-side-down thinking. And this is exactly the kind of thinking … living that Jesus modelled. There is nothing he spoke more of in his recorded lifetime than love. It is through this virtue that he gave the first and second greatest commands (“love God, love others” Matthew 22:38-39)

This greater love, is the love defined in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13 :

Love is patient, 
love is kind.
It does not envy,
it does not boast,
it is not proud. 
It does not dishonor others,
it is not self-seeking, 
it is not easily angered, 
it keeps no record of wrongs. 
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 
It always protects,
always trusts,
always hopes,
always perseveres.
Love never fails …
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. 
But the greatest of these is love.

This is the greater love of sacrificing for another.

May we be found loving other as Christ loves us.

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Who do you love?
a spouse? children? friend? parent?

Why do you love them?
how they make you feel?
what they have done for you?
they are yours?

To what extent would your love go for their benefit?
do things they like to do?
move to another city?
sacrifice time? money?

There is a story that always reminds me about the greatest gift of love:

There was a little girl who was suffering from a rare life threatening disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year-old brother, who had somehow survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness.

The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, “Yes, I’ll do it if it will save her.”

As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, “Will I start to die right away?”.

Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her.

That story always reminds me of the love of God, for us, his children. It is the love spoken of in John 15:13, which tells us, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

In Ellicott’s Commentary, on this verse, we read that, ” … the highest reach of love is the self-sacrifice which spares not life itself.”

If I think about it, I can imagine being willing to sacrifice my life for a handful of individuals … maybe a few more. I care for those people, have a relationship with them, seek the best for them and desire that they have future, a hope.

The thing is the love of Christ for us goes the next step further. God made this sacrifice because he cares for us, seeks the best for us, desires a future and hope for us. But, he made this sacrifice for those who have relationship with him, as well as those who have not chosen relationship with him … and his sacrifice was his own son.

It is the greatest love … there is no greater.

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The tragedy in Las Vegas this week makes our knees shake, our throats constrict and our hearts break.

We watch the news and are left whispering,

“why?”

There is no answer that consoles, no response that heals our broken hearts, or returns humans back to life.

But, I did discover something the other day that surprised me in the most beautiful way.

Though the sensationalized news is hopeless and fearful, people are starting to share stories of those at the event, in Las Vegas, who were the heroes in that dark night.

There were the numerous individuals who covered the body of their wife, their girlfriend, their friend, the stranger standing beside them. And many stories of those protectors dying in the process of saving the lives of others.

John 15:13 tells us what Jesus said about this kind of heroism:

“Greater love has no one than this,
that he lay down his life for his friends.”

There truly is no greater love.

This selfless, heroic love … it makes our knees shake, and we are still asking “why”, but this time we are also in awe, for this is the action of a fellow human being that we can aspire to become.

May they rest in peace, and may their loved ones receive comfort knowing that their lives, altered by hate, were ended in love.

 

 

 

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