Memorial Day Remembrance

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. — John 15:13

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NO GREATER LOVE

We are to show unconditional, selfless love to others—just as Jesus did for us.

Most people would define love as an emotion—affection, passion, or tenderness. The Bible, however, describes love in terms of sacrificial actions. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). While it’s rarely necessary to die for the sake of another, genuine love usually involves some level of sacrifice. As Christians, we are to show unconditional, selfless love to others—just as Jesus did for us.

The Pattern Christ SetJesus gave His followers a new challenge to love, one based on obedience to Him and commitment to fellow believers: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you” (John 13:34).

In Leviticus 19:18, Jews were commanded to “love your neighbor as yourself.” So how was Jesus’ command new? The people of God understood the word “neighbor” to mean a fellow Israelite or Gentile who had converted to Judaism. Jesus’ command has no such limitations.

To answer the question, “Who is my neighbor?,” Christ told the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). In Jesus’ day, relations between Jews and Samaritans were quite tense. Samaritans were despised for having intermarried with Gentiles and having adopted heretical religious beliefs.

  • According to the Good Samaritan story, who is your neighbor?

Jesus’ instruction is also new because it raises the standard. Loving others as ourselves means following the pattern He set for us, and putting the needs of others above our own.

How does Jesus love us? He offers Himself freely to all who call on Him—whether rich or poor, good-looking or unattractive, charming or irritating. He loves needy, immature, disobedient believers just as much as He does stronger, more mature, and faithful believers.

  • Meditate on the paragraph above. How does it make you feel?

Jesus intended love to be the defining characteristic of Christians: “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

  • Why would our love for other believers demonstrate that we are Christ’s disciples?

The Father and the Son love us unconditionally, while we are unworthy of love. Read Romans 5:6-10 and answer the following:

  • How are people without Christ described in verse 6?
  • Why do you think the Bible describes unbelievers as “enemies” of God (v. 10)? (See Colossians 1:21 and Romans 8:7 if necessary.)
  • In what way were you an enemy of the Lord before you accepted His gift of salvation?
  • Contrast man’s love (v. 7) with God’s (v. 8).
  • Why do you think the passage mentions our need to be saved from the Lord’s wrath (v. 9)? (See Ephesians 2:1-5 if necessary.)

To “justify” (v. 9) means “to be regarded and treated as if innocent; or acquitted from the consequences of guilt from God’s perspective.” “Reconcile” (v. 10) means “to restore harmony between two persons at variance, by the removal of existing obstacles.”

  • How do these terms apply to our relationship with God?
  • The Lord has justified and reconciled us, but not on the basis of anything we have done. How, then, should we treat people who have wronged us, or those who are otherwise difficult to love?

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Friendship: No Greater Love

 

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. — John 15:13

What’s the most famous friendship in the history of pop culture? My money is on Captain James T. Kirk and his Vulcan first officer, Mr. Spock, from Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek. Where the rugged captain played from his gut, often finding unique solutions to dangerous encounters, Spock was his ever-logical and supremely faithful counterpart.

Whether they were facing Romulans or Klingons or nemeses like Khan Noonien Singh, together they made a whole. And their relationship has endured since the original television show premiered in 1966.

It is no small thing when in 1982’s movie, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Mr. Spock faces his final moments separated from his friend by a clear wall. How does he end up stranded and alone? The wounded Enterprise is desperately trying to escape an exploding nebula, but without warp speed, they’ll never make it.

Spock quietly disappears from the bridge and descends to the engine room, where he restores the warp drive, knowing the leaking radiation will be fatal to him.

With the ship out of danger, now-Admiral Kirk rushes down to his friend but cannot even hold him as he dies, because of the radiation that has flooded the engine room.

“Spock!” Kirk cries.

“The ship… out of danger?” asks his friend.

“Yes.”

“Don’t grieve, Admiral,” Spock says weakly. “It is logical.

The needs of the many outweigh —”

“— the needs of the few,” supplies Kirk.

“Or the one…”

“I have been, and always shall be, your friend.” Spock holds up his hand in the iconic Vulcan salute. “Live long and prosper.”

Spock’s dying statements to his friend mirror those found in Scripture. It is essentially the same message Jesus gave us in John 15:12–13, where He commanded us to love one another “as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”

Friendship is  a gift that God gives to us, just as He gave it to David and Jonathan in 1 Samuel 18:1: “And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul”. These men were friends to the end, and after Jonathan was killed in battle, David took his friend’s son into his household to raise as his own child.

Is your life rich with friendships? If you are one of the luckiest of us, you may have a friend whom you love as your own soul. Be sure to nurture that relationship and consider yourself a blessed person.

A Prayer

Dear Lord, thank You for friends. Help me appreciate them and not take them for granted. Show me who to offer my friendship. Amen.

Take Action

• Is there someone new in your community? Reach out the hand of friendship and welcome her or him.

• Do you have old friendships you’ve allowed to wither away for lack of time? Reenergize them with a quick phone call, a Facebook message, or an e-mail, letting them know you’re thinking about them.

• Is there someone in your church or elsewhere in your daily life who doesn’t have many friends because he or she is socially awkward  or shy? Offer your friendship, and you may be surprised what a delight you are to that person.

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