Over the last few years, I have become increasingly fond of the artist Andrew Peterson. I initially discovered him by accident on Pandora as he was shuffled through the calculated music choices. Something about his honesty and faith resonated with me. Where so many Christian musicians choose to sugar coat struggles or become bitter, he seems to make his music with faith regardless of the situation.
In his song “Dancing in the Minefields,” there is a line “but to lose your life for another I am told, is a good place to begin.” The song is about his youthful marriage to his wife Jamie, and the joys and struggles that flowed out of that. While I can’t resonate with a youthful marriage, I have been contemplating what it means to lose your life for another. Begging the question – what does it mean to lay it all down?
Peterson is, of course, referencing John 15:13 – “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends,” as Jesus continues to point to his crucifixion. In a few short chapters, Jesus will face a rigged trial, be falsely accused, and eventually crucified. We understand this crucifixion as a laying down of his life for all of those, throughout all time, whom he now calls friends, that is those who have laid down their own lives to follow him.
But what is it to follow Him? How are we to lay out life down for Christ?
This question is what has been haunting me. There is a truth, whether a person is a follower of Christ, or not, that dying for another is seen as a morally good thing. For, to value someone so much that you’re willing to give up your life for them, whether it be in a war that your country might continue to enjoy freedom, or for a child stuck in a riptide, you have done a good and courageous thing.
For the Christian though, there must surely be a deeper meaning than simply, literally dying. The conclusion that I am coming to is that to lay down our life for another, to lay down our lives for the glory of Christ, and for Christ’s sake, is to forsake our own will and desires. This is a tremendous calling. It is hard to say “I want this, or I want that, but for your sake Lord, I will wait, I will even give it up for you if it means that your light shines a little brighter in the world.”
Yet, I think this is what we are called to. For, to live for another means to not live for ourselves. How much brighter would the light of Christ burn, if we ceased to get lost in thinking about our own will and desires?
Whether we are laying down our lives for our spouse, humbling giving ourselves to them, laying our life down for a friend who needs a shoulder to cry on at midnight, pouring out all that we have for our church, or some other calling, this laying down is a very good thing.
We may not be called to die as a martyr for the glory of Christ, or to dive into a riptide to save a drowning child, but we are called to lay down our lives. We are called not only to die to our sins but to die to ourselves, that Christ would come fully alive in us. This, of course, is a hard calling, but it is an excellent calling.
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