“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13 NIV (New International Version)
I’m going to guess that almost everyone has heard this verse before, or some variation of it, whether you identify yourself as a Christian or not. It’s a verse that is typically taken very literally and it moves us emotionally to feel and believe that the ultimate display of love is to die for someone else. That’s how I grew up understanding it anyway and that interpretation was certainly reinforced during a 20-year military career.
Am I the only one that sees it that way? Are we supposed to look at it only in that extreme way? Or is it possible that we can also look at it in simpler terms?
My purpose for this blog is not to try and prove that any particular viewpoint about this verse is “right or wrong”. I’m not a theologian and I certainly don’t have the right to tell anyone else what to think. Most importantly, I do not diminish what Jesus Christ did for us on the Cross or what any service member / first responder has ever done in their service to our country and communities.
I’m simply curious about the possibility of a different perspective on this and if a different perspective could help lead us to a greater love for each other.
When we choose to think about this verse and other things in extremes, we tend to think and believe that we can only make a difference by doing something big, or difficult, or ultimately final.
A Different Perspective:
What could life and love be like if we choose to think about this verse and other things in a much smaller and simpler way?
- What if we choose to put our phones down or turn off the TV when our children or spouses want to sit with us and be held?
- What if we choose to change our plans when a family member or friend calls with an urgent need?
- What if we choose to stop what we’re doing and really pray for someone when they ask for prayer, instead of just saying “I’ll pray for you”?
- What if we choose to really listen to someone else so they feel like they’ve been heard and appreciated?
- What if we choose to leave our job or ministry when our family needs us more?
I’ve come to believe that “laying down one’s life” can mean dying for someone else (the extreme) and it can also simply mean giving your full attention to someone else in their time of need. It’s taken me a long time to see this simpler perspective. The examples I listed above are actually from my own life and struggles.
The cool thing about this simpler perspective, every time I have chosen to “lay my life down” for someone else I have received “greater love” than I gave.
What do you think of when you read this verse? What do you believe? If this blog has made you think, or if you want to think about things like this more, join us at The Journey Training.
I am where I am meant to be, when I am meant to be there.
How often do we miss purpose in the moment? How often do we look toward the future and miss what is happening now? Whether it is a chance to be kind to someone, a chance to isolate yourself and reflect, or maybe a chance to meet the love of your life? So often we forget to open our eyes and see what God is showing us in the moment. Maybe because we are constantly looking back – hurting and wishing it could change – or perhaps too much toward the future, planning what we wish would happen.
Maybe it’s time to stop looking at your past; it’s behind you for a reason. And to stop looking to your future for a moment, because your whole life can change in an instant. If you’re always looking at the last or next moment, you’re missing the moment right there in front of you.
Trust the Process
Trust the process of the moment you are in, and know that God is working in your current moment to impact your future. Sometimes we try and plan way too much; and sometimes the lesson we need to learn is being given to us in the moment of life circumstances you are currently going through.
I am currently performing at Disney World, which honestly isn’t my dream job. I’m only here till January and it is a fun job, but not the biggest career option I’ve made. I personally had a very challenging year and I felt like I was supposed to take this job for a reason, even though it was not in my “plan” at all.
Often, there are great moments where I get to do some cool things, and I’ve had some fun times. I thought I would come down here, save some money, have some fun, and just enjoy myself. Although that is happening, I feel like God is working in my life a lot more through this experience than I had ever expected.
In the last couple months I’ve prayed for humility – the power to let go of the things and people I cannot control – and for opportunities to give love to others.
Although there are some days I get to dress up like a prince and be the center of attention – which I always enjoy – I had to be trained and work in what we call “Fur”, where you are anonymously playing a character that is fully covered. I felt worthless doing this, not to mention HOT! During these shifts, I felt like I wasn’t fully using my talents. I was annoyed and grumpy every time! And then one day I was “friends with Goofy” and a woman came up to me. She hugged me and started crying – a woman in her late 40’s – because of me playing a costumed Dog! She said “you have gotten me through so much, and I’ve waited my entire life to meet you!”
Talk about a perspective shift! Since that day, I’ve had more and more experiences like this, and it’s almost always happened while I was “in fur” and not too happy about it. I began to realize that the experience is God giving me an opportunity to be humble and to serve others without them knowing who I am. God doesn’t always give you exactly what you pray for; he gives you an opportunity to make a choice and do what it is you are praying for. He is handing me opportunities to be humble.
It’s not about me
Being in the entertainment industry it’s easy to become self-absorbed while also being self-critical. It’s easy to begin seeing people as products, business and fans instead of human beings. Something I really learned from going through The Journey Training was how to see value in myself and in others. Every person has a story, and I’m learning that here at Disney World even more. No matter if I’m dancing in a parade, playing a hero, or simply in fur, I get the opportunity to practice humility. And even though they don’t know it’s me, I’m making someone’s day by serving them. Serving…such an important lesson to learn.
Before I came to Florida I had a very challenging couple weeks, full of disappointment, frustration, and fear – and definitely some regret. I struggle a lot with trusting God to take care of situations. I take on the responsibility to fix others’ lives. The reality is, you can only do so much. Many things came to a head just a few weeks before leaving home, and the fear that came over me was that I wouldn’t be able to take care of it all and see the outcome.
While being away at Disney world, I have been challenged to give space to people who are not adding to my life, and to face situations that I cannot control. And if I were home, I probably wouldn’t have let go. God planned it – with me by being here!
Lately while being on my own, I’ve been able to meet some of the most amazing “Make a Wish” kids from all over the world, seeing so many come together for a mutual love of magic and happiness. There is one thing that everyone in the world can relate to; that is being hugged, being loved, and someone taking the time to say “you are worth it.”
I’ve also learned balance and am able to love people from a distance and in different ways. I can set boundaries while still seeing everyone as equally imperfect and beautiful creatures of God.
The plan is the plan, even if it’s not mine!
This plan may not be my plan, and I’m not be getting everything I wanted, but living with humility and realizing that God has a purpose in every moment is something I will take from here and live with forever. Through this experience, I have become closer to God than ever before, and in turn, closer to the destiny He has for me.
So in your life, trust the moment. Look around you and realize that there is beauty and opportunity in this moment – right now; there is more to the greater plan than what we can see or comprehend, so dare to let go a little! Trust this moment, and know you are where you are meant to be where you are right now.
Duncan was a trainee in The Journey Training, Class 13. The insight he has received from the training has helped him see value in things he was unaware of before, allowing him to trust the process and find the value where he is right now. Each month, so many are able to find treasure in what they considered trash, allowing them to take their past and make a purpose out of it for the present and the future. If you are ready to begin your Journey, why not sign up for the next Threshold class and embark on the adventure of your life?