June 23, 2022
There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13 NLT
Jesus made this statement to His disciples the night before He would deliberately, intentionally, and physically lay down His life for His friends and the entire world. He told His followers they were to love with the same sacrificial kind of love. That sacrifice is not just willingness for physical death, however. The sacrifice required from us is also much more daily and ordinary than that. You know how this works. A person will declare undying, passionate love for another: “I love her so much—I would give my life for her!” But in reality, the same person won’t even make a schedule change or skip a few minutes of television watching to do a favor for the object of their “passion.”
Those choices are the opportunities we are given every day to love as Jesus loved, to make the heroic sacrifice Paul called “considering another person’s interests and desires more than our own” (Philippians 2:3-4). Nowhere is this more important than choosing to positively impact the tomorrow of our young people. It is extremely easy for good church people to sacrifice the tomorrow of our young people for our own preferences today. We can’t afford it. As Andy Stanley has said, “You don’t have to change the world, but you do have to change something.”
How can we make certain we make the heroic sacrifice? A few ideas from Jesus:
1. Level down—don’t ask them to level up. Instead of expecting people to come where He was, Jesus went where they were. Instead of asking them to reach up, He reached down. Instead of chastising them for their selfishness, He reached out unselfishly. He knew they were going to grow. Until then He didn’t expect maturity they didn’t yet have.
2. Speak their language. Jesus offended the religious people because He dropped their language and spoke the language of the culture. He told stories. He used the things they used and communicated the way they did. He reached them in familiar ways.
3. Love instead of lecture. Relate more than teach. Jesus knew that lectures change no one—love does. He didn’t ask people in the face of failure, “What were you thinking?” He spent time with them, getting to know them and letting them know Him. Jesus spoke life with His words and actions.
4. Get them ready for when you aren’t here. Jesus knew that the time He wouldn’t be here in person was much longer than the time He would be on the planet. He didn’t focus on programs and power and an earthly kingdom, He focused on building a kingdom that would last forever. He focused on equipping them to be strong and capable leaders, not holding the power in His own hands.
And that’s why we are here. Jesus didn’t sacrifice our tomorrow for His today. We can’t do that either.
- How can I sacrifice unselfishly for others, especially the young?