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. - 1 John 3:16 (YouVersion for Ipod)
What does it mean to "lay down one's life for our brothers and sisters" and who is "our brothers and sisters"?
In order to find the answer to these questions, we must give time to meditating on the things of God for us to really understand what is expected of us by our Father.
Many times, I have found as I am reading God's Word, that I am just cruising through it. Hey, I did my 30 minutes today, Lord. What a good girl I am. Not!! God's Word is deep and has lots of hidden layers and requires time, energy and devotion to ascertain the message that God has for each one of us on this particular day. I am convinced there is a message which is not readily understood for each believer in Jesus Christ on any given day. It's how God speaks to us, individually and corporately.
As I read the above scripture this morning, it hit me over the head like a ton of bricks. Real love (agape love) is when you want the very best for another person and you are willing to die in their place in order to see that they get it. God's Word is telling us that we OUGHT to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters - and he (John) is not talking about our siblings, although I am sure that they are included.
He's talking about all our brothers and sisters who believe in Jesus Christ and that He is who He said He is - the only begotten Son of God - God Incarnate, who came and walked the earth, lived, breathed, was tempted in every way that we are and NEVER allowed Hinself to participate in the temptation to sin. He became a threat to the established, good-ol'-boy Jewish legal system and so they had to kill Him to perpetuate their "the way we've always done things" mantra, or the "you're not what we have been expecting" mindset. ...and so, He died on a cross and took on the penalty for sin for EVERY person who ever walked on or will walk on this earth, WHICH IS DEATH, and then, He rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven!
You know that person who irritated you in worship this morning because they took your parking space...yep, it includes him. Lay down your life; it's not yours anymore.
You know that woman who's always forwarding emails about God - the ones that take up too much time and you don't know how to tell her to stop...yeah, her too.
And that one liberal (or conservative) man or woman who gets your goat everytime you post something political on social network sites, well, yeah,....them, too.
What does it mean to lay down your life because we know that it doesn't mean that we ACTUALLY/LITERALLY die for each and every brother and sister?
I've said many times on this blog that I AM NOT A BIBLE SCHOLAR, but I am a Bible student, and so my interpretation on this is that we are to lay it down, let it go, don't sweat the small stuff, forgive and do your best to forget and CARE about the unseen, unknown reasons why doing so will be the best thing for the other person. I also think a small touch, an encouraging word and a prayer on their behalf (later when they're not around or maybe right then with them if it's possible and desirable).
Too many times I catch myself speaking unnecessary, unkind, impatient, unloving words when I should just be turning those thoughts and statements over to the Lord. One arena in which I am very impatient is driving. (Real estate agents think they are professional drivers and that everyone should listen to and adhere to their driving knowledge.) First, let me say, I am not a speeder. BUT I do drive the speed limit. So if someone is poking around in front of me without any clear reasons of why, I usually will politely speak words like, "get going, Mister", or "nice turn signal, lady"! You know what I mean, right? I've become especially sensitive to this since my son rides around with me a lot, and well, I am his role model. So I do it quietly and politely (most of the time), but really, is it at all necessary? I don't really know what is going on; maybe they have something going out on their car, maybe they're ill, maybe they're sad, it COULD be anyone of a million reasons. So, I should just GET OVER IT.
When one looks at this scripture in the light of brothers and sisters who ARE REALLY CLOSE TO US, this puts another entirely different spin on things because generally (it is said) we treat those we love the most the worst!
...makes me blush with shame when I reflect on some things I have said or done. (May God and my victim forgive me)