On Monday nights in Campaigners this semester we're talking about love. Understanding Christ's love, recognizing love in your own life, treating other's with love, and figuring out how to love are all things I think I can work on my entire life and still not fully understand. But week by week we're going to dig a little deeper into this idea.
This week we look at the passage about the vine and the branches in John 15.
We talked about the challenge in this section,
"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one that this: to lay down one's life one's friends."
How do you lay down your life for your friends each day?
Sarah asked us, "What if there was a place where everyone was friends?"
We decided this doesn't mean that everyone is best friends and they hang out all the time but a place where everyone is nice to everyone else. It sounds kind of magical I think. Some of the girls didn't think a place like this could exist because they've never seen anything close to it.
I've got to believe that a place where everyone is nice both can and will exist someday. I believe with my whole heart that this is what heaven is going to be like--and even greater than I can imagine. But I also believe that a place where everyone can be friends can exist in the here and now.
I experienced this with my team on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. From the beginning of the week everyone in the group was kind, supportive, hilarious, and open. We poured concrete and cut rebar. Life stories were shared and we ate rice and beans together at every meal. Everyone sang worship songs in Spanish and laughed during Catch Phrase. We stayed up late talking and played in the rain. It was one of the best weeks I've ever had.
I experienced this kind of kindness in a cabin of Brave girls I was a counselor for. They included each other and loved one another without even realizing they were doing it. They made up their own theme days and side-walked chalked a map of all of camp. They braided each other's hair. During rest hour they rigged up a pulley system that connected all of their bunks so they could all share notes. Everyone had a partner during lake time and they stuck together at the pool. Each one was just so nice to the others.
We're all human and we're all imperfect. As hard as we try we're going to make mistakes and hurt people we love sometimes. But I want to live with the intent to be kind. I want to work each day to be nice to my friends. I want to love others well. I want to set up my life to have glimpses of a place where everyone is friends.
To love others well you've got to do the hard work of laying down your life for others on a daily basis. Sarah told the girls that this means putting them and their needs ahead of your own. How can you be there for them? Help them? Show up in their life? Listen to them? Pray for them? Support them? Do something extra for them? Even if you would rather be doing something else you've got to love your friends first.
Verse 17 reads, "This is my command: Love each other." That's what I want my life to be about.