I grew up in a pastor’s home. I had a front row seat in watching what it means to lay down your life for your friends. My dad & mom pastored an urban church of 100-200 people while my dad also taught school full time. Though he loved his life, it never really seemed “fair” to me! Although there was something about my dad that drove him, from my perspective as his son I never felt any bitterness or resentment in him.
What I do remember was a resolve… something lived with him that held him, animated him, brought him to life. It was a life of ministry. Somewhere along the way in his life he had given himself over to friendship with Jesus to a place where it consumed him. I don’t know if he ever directly invited that to happen. I assume he did but I never really knew. But, regardless his way of life vibrated with service to others and it was always because Jesus had loved him first.
There are people you would lay down your life for. I have them too. But it is rare to find someone who has been so consumed in friendship with Jesus that they have laid down their life for him. How can you tell? One of Jesus best friends, John (kind of fitting to me that my dad had the same name as one of Jesus best friends) wrote “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” I John 3:16. It is also poetic that the reference is “3:16” as John 3:16 references the sacrifice God the Father & Son gave so that we can have eternal life!
You know that someone is being consumed in friendship with Jesus because they express it by laying down their life in whatever they do just like Him. But it is never a bitter or resentful sacrifice. It is one that honors Jesus & brings others to life!