“No one has greater love [no one has shown stronger affection] than to lay down (give up) his own life for his friends.” John 15:13 Amplified Bible
“As America celebrates Memorial Day, we pay tribute to those who have given their lives in our nation’s wars.” John M. McHugh
Today we remember those who gave their lives so others could live in freedom. We live in freedom because of the sacrifice many have given through the years. Throughout the history of this planet we have stories of those who believed it was their right to take from others their rights. However, we know no one has that right no matter what they may have convinced themselves or others.
Yet because there those who believe they need to rule and control others we have had to develop militaries with men and women who have given the ultimate gift. Jesus told His followers no one could give anything greater than laying down their life for another person. Whether that is giving one’s physical body by fighting in the military, serving in law enforcement, or rushing into a burning building as a firefighter, there are many other ways one can lay down their life for another.
We may choose to set aside our preferences in order for another to experience something important to them. Perhaps it could be a matter of setting aside prejudices built up over a lifetime in order to discover a new friend, someone God is sending to you. It is completely possible the very one who provides the most frustration in your life is the one who could provide the most opportunities for experiencing God’s grace. They might become your closest friend as you share the journey of life, remembering you both need Jesus!
Henri Nouwen, in his book “Life of the Beloved,” addresses a reality many are struggling to conquer in our lives, the inability to love ourselves. He wrote the book for an atheist journalist and his friends in a desire to somehow communicate to them that God had a love He wanted them to know. Nouwen struggled with how to communicate to these men and women who doubted completely there was a God that this God loved them! The result was the book “Life of the Beloved”.
“Fred, all I want to say to you is You are the Beloved, and all I hope is that you can hear these words as spoken to you with all the tenderness and force that love can hold. My only desire is to make these words reverberate in every corner of your being—You are the Beloved”. (Life of the Beloved, Henri Nouwen, pg. 30)
I would say to you today this is the Memorial Jesus has for you and for me, this truth is one of the reasons He went to the cross. The cross, that ultimate Memorial of a life laid down for others, especially for those who were enemies, and that includes us! For that reason we need to know the truth of the Beloved, that we are the Beloved. Whether you are like Fred the journalist who met Henri Nouwen when he came to interview him, or like me who struggles with this reality every day, it’s a truth we need to know! It’s a reality that must infiltrate every fibre of our being, “…reverberate in every corner of your being!“ (ibid)
“The greatest gift my friendship can give to you is the gift of your Belovedness. I can give that gift only insofar as I have claimed it for myself. Isn’t that what friendship is all about: giving each other the gift of our Belovedness?” (ibid)
This is such a profound statement when you consider what Jesus said about love. He tells us we are to love others as we love ourselves! Are we hearing this? It’s been 2000 years since Jesus uttered these words and I’m not sure we have a clue about what Jesus is telling us. But Nouwen is giving us an incredible insight into a deep need we all have, to be loved and to love. However, it can’t happen if we do not have the reality of loving ourselves, it is what Jesus tells us.
This is one of the truths He died for, one of the reality checks the Holy Spirit brings every moment of every day! It’s crucial we absorb this truth into the deepest part of our souls so we are able to carry out the love reality of God in us, God through us, God with us! Now, I believe it is God who carries out all things in us, for us, through us, about us! I also believe we need to accept the truths which are not only about Him, but are Him, so we can teach others about the truth of love as we have experienced it in Him. We have the incredible privilege of teaching others this amazing truth, but it will only begin to happen as we choose to believe it for ourselves!
As we remember those who gave their all, let’s choose to make our lives living Memorials to the One who gave His everything so we wouldn’t have to! Remember who you are in Christ Jesus, the Beloved. Remember the gift we have for those who don’t know they are the Beloved. Remember to be available as a Living Memorial bringing to others the message of being the Beloved!