“We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us – and we ought to lay down our lives for one another.”
I John 3:16
Serving Others in Love
We’re made strong by the model of self-spending love – that ‘let-it-all-go’ kind of love of Jesus – so that we can go out into the world and practice the same kind of love.
-Br. Keith Nelson
From the First Letter of John: “We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for one another.” So love lays down life. This is the love that we see in the Cross. This is a love that is so deep, it’s really beyond words – this love that Jesus had for us, enough to lay down his life for us, and an invitation to do the same for one another. So what does this mean for us? I think that it means that in communities of love to whom we’ve made faithful commitments, I think that that means practicing vulnerability with each other.
There’s a brilliant researcher and author, Brené Brown, who defines vulnerability as “risk, uncertainty, and emotional exposure”. We lay down our life when we practice those things in relationship with one another. We lay down our life when we apologize to someone when we know that we’re wrong, even if we don’t want to apologize. We lay down our life by volunteering to do something that we know needs doing; even if we think we might be bad at it, we risk. We lean into the uncertainty in love in communities to whom we’ve made those faithful commitments as a way of practicing, so that when we go out into the world, when we testify to the love of God in word and action, we’ve had a kind of dress rehearsal for that within the Christian community, within your marriage or partnership, within your family, within your spiritual friendships. We’re made strong in that love by the model of that self-spending love – that ‘let-it-all-go’ kind of love of Jesus – so that we can go out into the world and practice the same kind of love.
Vulnerability is difficult. I know that in my own life. I’m sure that you know that. So we need communities of love to ground us, to practice that, so that we can be prepared to do that in ever widening circles in the world as a testimony to the one who loved us that much. So, a practice of prayer that might go with this: When you find yourself in that place where you feel called to lay down your life in whatever way, large or small, you might think of composing a short prayer, a laying-down-my-life prayer, that maybe you just breathe in and breathe out and say internally, “This is love. This is love laying down its life.” When someone does that for you, when you see love laying down its life for you, have a prayer that allows you to receive that in return, to practice that mutual giving and receiving of love laying down its life.