1 John 3:15 says,
16 We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.
When I was young, I would read this verse and wonder what it really meant. I used to think that it was talking about sacrificing myself to protect other people. Jumping into the line of fire to save someone else. Like heros out of movies or something, the ones who defy death to take the people they care about.
On one hand, I think this verse is talking about that. After all, Christ did die for us. And, as Christians, we shouldn’t fear death. So being willing to sacrifice our lives for someone else shouldn’t be that big of a leap.
Maybe it’s just me, but death doesn’t scare me. It never really has. Granted, it’s not my first choice when I wake up in the morning, but if today is my day then there’s nothing I can do about it. God’s got me covered. I know where I’m going. And if He can accomplish something incredible through my death, I think that would be awesome. I know people here would miss me . . . but, hey, death just means I get to go home. So I have no complaints or worries.
Being willing to die for someone is an easy choice.
Being willing live for someone is hard.
We are inherently selfish beings. We want what we want, when we want it, how we want it, and it doesn’t matter if it hurts other people or not. Conquering that selfish spirit is one of the hardest things to do as a Christian, but we need to do it. Because Christ did it for us.
We always focus on His death. But what about His life? His life tells us just as much about Him as His death does.
He loved people. He healed people. He walked with people. He taught people. He hung out with ordinary, everyday folks. He didn’t waste time sitting around arguing theology; He was out on the streets playing games with kids, laughing with his friends, eating at people’s houses.
But think about it from Jesus’ pespective.
He had to leave everything behind to come here to Earth. We are foolish enough to think that our planet is a pretty nice place to be born and live. I think it’s awfully nice too, by the way. God made it, after all. So of course it’s wondrous. But Earth is broken and life here is flawed. And even on its best day, it can’t compare to what Jesus had in heaven. And He chose to give that life up to come here to save us, to teach us how to live.
We’re so caught up in being comfortable. We like where we are and what we do and how we do it. Maybe our lives aren’t perfect, but they’re our lives. And we don’t want to change anything because we feel safe in our routine.
But the Bible says that we need to give up our lives for our brothers and our sisters. We need to be willing to live for other people because that’s what Jesus did for us.Now I’m not saying that we have to sell everything we own and live in a cardboard box on the street corner. Many times people who have been given wealth and status can use that wealth and status to help others. What matters is your perspective and your motivation.
That’s what this verse is really saying, I think. That Jesus gave up the life He had in heaven to come to this dirty, broken, cruel world and build relationships with ignorant, arrogant, loud-mouthed people.
Shouldn’t we do the same?