Summary: The greatest love is to love others sacrificially.
Title: Taking One for the Team
Text: John 15:9-17
Thesis: The greatest love is to love others sacrificially.
Colorado is a hotbed for interesting and sometimes “off-the-wall” news articles. Last September 30th Trevor Wikre, an offensive guard for the Mesa State Mavericks. Mesa State College is a Division II school in Grand Junction, Colorado. Anyway, Trevor broke his pinkie finger so severely that repairing the finger meant surgery to insert three pins and then a lengthy recovery that would sideline him for the season.
Trevor would have none of that. He reasoned, “If they put pins in there, my career is finished. I told them to just take it off. Some said I was being dramatic. I said, yeah, well, losing my season is dramatic too.”
So surgeons amputated his pinkie finger and he played the following week in a 26 – 3 win over Colorado State-Pueblo.
Apparently a couple of weeks before the accident he had expressed his love and devotion for his teammates telling them he would take a bullet for them. After the surgery he reflected on his comments to his teammates saying, “I said, ‘I’d take a bullet for you.’ Well, “This was my chance to put my words into action. This was my bullet.” (http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/football/2008-10-13-wikre-pinky_N.htm)
His teammates will always equate “taking one for the team” with Trevor Wikre having his pinkie finger amputated so he could support his team.
Our understanding of nearly everything is shaped by our experience… including our understanding of love.
I wish to begin by stating that our understanding of what it means to be loved is shaped by our having been loved.
I. Our understanding of what it means to be loved is shaped by having been loved.
“I have loved you even as my Father has loved me.” John 15:9
Jesus told his disciples that he loved them in the same way that God the Father had loved him.
We sometimes hear sad stories of people who have been in an abusive relationship with their mother or father or other person entrusted with their care that tarnishes their ability to understand the love of God. Their experience has shaped their understanding of love. Fortunately, we have learned that abused children do not necessarily grow up to be abusers and that cycles of abuse and hurt can be broken as those who have been hurt by others come to understand and experience healthy and loving relationships with others and with God.
Jesus told his disciples that his love for them was shaped by his Father’s love for him. I wonder how Jesus was loved. Did God the Father give him warm milk and cookies every night before tucking him into bed? Did God the Father golf with his son on some far away cosmic fairway?
The motto printed of Sunflower Markets shopping bags says, “Serious Food - - Silly Prices!” Such imaginative speculation about the ways God loves Jesus is pretty much an exercise in silliness. But seriously, Jesus did make a statement about God’s love for him. In a prayer to God for his disciples Jesus said, “Father, I want these whom you’ve given me to be with me, so they can see my glory. You gave me the glory because you loved me even before the world began.” John 17:24
When Jesus thought of God’s love for him he looked back over the millennia marking a love that existed long before the world began and persisted to the present. Jesus experienced the love of God as a very long, enduring and unwavering love.
If you are a proponent of a “young earth” you understand Jesus’ comment to mean that God had loved him at least 6,000 years. If you are a proponent of an “old earth” you understand Jesus’ comment to mean that God had loved him for 4.5 billion years (in a universe that is 14 billion years old). (www.anseringgenesis.org/articles/208/05/30/how-old-is-earth)
I don’t care to debate or defend either theory. The difference between 6,000 and 4.5 billion years is immense and to imagine a love that endures 6,000 years is a large enough, but it is dwarfed by a love that bridges 4.5 billion years.
Either way, Jesus’ understanding of love was to be deeply loved for a long, long time. Jesus understood love to be an enduring commitment.
A few weeks ago I was sitting in the lobby of Standley Shores Dental Group when I noticed an elderly man maneuvering a wheel chair through the double doors. I assumed the woman in the chair was his wife. The receptionist rushed to his assistance but he managed it all quite well. (I later learned they were in their 90s and were the parents of one of the dentists in the group… which explained the receptionists haste to assist.)