When Jesus told His disciples, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends,”1 He was literally describing His upcoming death on the cross to save humanity. The subsequent events proved that He was willing to give up everything for us, His friends. Jesus’ love is perfect and His friendship is perfect.
I’ve sometimes wondered what my actions would be if I were in a situation where I could save a life by giving my own; but of course I know it’s not so likely that I’ll ever be tested in such a dramatic way. The challenges I’m likely to face are more prosaic, and the opportunities for “laying down my life” that come my way are more mundane.
Do I hang out with my friend who’s going through a rough patch and isn’t particularly fun to be around at that time, or do I make excuses and try to avoid him? Do I visit my friend when she’s sick—not just once at the beginning, but regularly, if needed? If I got a ticket to a big game, but my friend didn’t, would I be willing to give it to him? When my friend gets an incredible work or vacation opportunity, am I genuinely happy and excited for her, or am I jealous of her good fortune? When my friends’ choices of restaurants or activities are different from what I would have liked, do I always expect them to accommodate my wishes?
Opportunities like these for “unexciting” sacrifices come up on a daily basis and are more valid tests of my character than hypothetical life-and-death drama. I’ve certainly not arrived yet, and working on this issue of Activated has inspired me to try harder to be the kind of friend who, as the Bible says, “loves at all times.”2