War and peace - Day 4
Act of love
- John 15:9-17
I love you just as the Father loves me; remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My commandment is this: love one another, just as I love you. The greatest love a person can have for his friends is to give his life for them. And you are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because servants do not know what their master is doing. Instead, I call you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me; I chose you and appointed you to go and bear much fruit, the kind of fruit that endures. And so the Father will give you whatever you ask of him in my name. This, then, is what I command you: love one another.
Jesus urges his disciples to imitate him in love. That could even lead to death, Jesus says in John 15:13. In the verses that follow, Jesus will therefore speak about his own suffering, as an inspiration for his disciples. Just as Jesus died on the cross, so his followers must suffer. Verse 13, which talks about giving your life for your friends, was used by loved ones of deceased soldiers to honour them. The text is often found on tombstones of soldiers who were killed during the First World War. Thus, verse 13 is used in a different context than in the Bible. For the bereaved, our loved ones gave their lives for their friends, just as Jesus says in John 15.
Today we would be less likely to connect war and love. Yet, the starting point of the next of kin and of Jesus, in John 15, is the same: the importance of acting out of love. Love should be your motivation. You should have so much love, that you are willing to give your life for the other.
If you live in South Africa at the present time, you may not easily find yourself in a situation where you can give your life for your friends. What else, then, could be your greatest act of love?