This morning, I was struck by a new aspect of John 15 that I hadn't noticed before. The devotional passage starts at v. 9, which I thought was weird because it's not the start of a paragraph or a new section of ideas... what is interesting, though, is that it is the first time that Jesus makes reference to the love relationship he has with his disciples (and us), which he then expands upon through the end of v. 17. So he talks all about how the Father loves him, and how with that same love he loves us (which, sidenote, what the heck!? that is some intense love we are talking about!) And then he moves on in v. 12 and gives the command to love each other as he has loved us, which is the same way that God loves him. again... intense levels of love being discussed! And then, the triple-whammy of it is that he says, "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends." and then he goes on to talk about how he no longer calls the disciples (us) slaves, but that he calls them (us) friends. Friends! Not only is that an incredible level of intimacy with the Creator of the world who is also the King of kings and Lord of lords, but he calls us friends RIGHT after he says that the most incredible love one can manifest is to lay down one's life for said friends. The obvious implication is that Christ has done this for us... He shows us the greatest love by laying down his life for his friends (us). BUT... what about the reverse? Usually we don't refer to someone as our "friend" unless they would similarly view us as a "friend"... Few of us would say, "Oh yeah, that girl Pearl? She is my good friend, but I'm not her friend. She doesn't like me much." Right? So... is the implication, then, that not only am I Jesus' friend, but Jesus is my friend? I think it is. Which must mean, then, that greater love has no one than this: that I would lay down MY life for my friend JESUS. Instead of the one-way street of him only laying down his life for me. Woah. That one hit me like a ton of bricks. I mean, we talk about crucifying our old selves and we talk about losing our life in finding it and all that stuff, but I just was struck today at how it's like, wait a second, laying down my life for Jesus is the NATURAL RESPONSE to him being my friend. I do it to demonstrate my love for him. Granted, it (probably) doesn't look like being crucified on Calvary... that is a one-way street. But daily I am faced with hundreds of mini Calvary's where I have the opportunity to lay down my life out of the love I have for my friend Jesus. Anyway, I don't know how intelligible all of that was, now that I've typed it all out. But it was a cool realization in my morning quiet time today. Now if only I could work up the courage and proper perspective of Jesus, myself, and others to actually lay down my life on all those little Calvary's... :-/
As for the rest of the team, I hope you guys are hanging in there and keeping good perspective. Know that I am praying for those of you who are feeling the crunch of AP testing, impending finals, etc. Remember, too, that as YOU stress out and pray for yourselves, you can be praying for the other members of the team who are in a similar spot. Stay diligent in your times with Jesus... the hectic times are the times when we most need the constant re-focusing on who Christ is and what he's done!
And last but not least (sorry so long!), I have some exciting news... Welcome THOMAS YANG to the team!! Thomas is a student at UC Davis and will be serving during first session. Get excited for Memorial Day Weekend - it will be an awesome chance to meet some of the awesome additions to the Sonshine team and to reconnect with the other cool people you met at training in March!
3 1/2 weeks until Memorial Day (and to raise RJW support)!