The deepest demonstration of love is to willingly sacrifice oneself for the benefit of another. In our last church one of our members was Pat Thorne. He was a sniper who, atop a tree, saw a platoon of Canadian soldiers walking on a road in the direction of a German contingent. Wanting to warn them and knowing he couldn’t possibly take out the whole German platoon, he fired warning shots in the direction of the enemy. He didn’t expect them to actually turn in the direction of the shot and fire aimlessly toward him. He remembers getting hit, feeling warm, falling, and waking up in an American hospital. His medal for that act of bravery is paralysis and a wheelchair for over 50 years of his life and not being able to lie in a bed, being propped upright in a chair where he sleeps at night.
Stories like these move us deeply. It leads us however to reach for an even higher meaning if we will grasp the greatest principle intended in this passage of laying down one’s life, for doing so does not always mean death. It is that experience of embracing a LIFESTYLE that is always about everyone else. The level of our “intimate and organic” relationship with God determines the extent that we embrace the LIFESTYLE of living for others.