A woman who does prison ministry work in New York City was recently describing her experiences to her church community. She mentioned that initially, she felt annoyed at the great deal of red tape involved and somewhat frustrated with the time commitment. In the midst of her angst, though, she remembered John 15:13: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” The woman said that she had always read this verse literally but that in that moment of irritation and frustration, she realized that she was being called to lay aside a different aspect of her life—her time, convenience, and ease—to help others. She worked through the red tape and was very glad that she did, and she’s been an active volunteer in the prison system ever since.
What a wonderful insight, particularly for those of us who are struggling with the emotional toll of volunteering at an animal shelter, pushing through the initial sense of inconvenience that can accompany a lifestyle change like going vegan, or making sacrifices to accommodate the animal companions in our homes.
Jesus’ charge to lay down our life for our friends comes in the midst of a long teaching that he gives to his disciples shortly before he is betrayed and arrested. He reminds his followers to abide in him and his love and to keep his command, which is to love others as Jesus loves us.
If we love the world as Jesus loves us, we act as servants to the world. As we walk through the Lenten season of reconciliation in preparation for the restoration of Easter, consider how we can better live Jesus’ call of service to the most vulnerable. How will you love today?