by Rob Dunne
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. John 15:13
Katie asked me what we were hoping to do on our trip to Guatemala. The team was comprised of three adults and four teenagers. “We wouldn’t mind doing some physical labor while we are there.” She said she would see what she could do.
A week or so before our trip, heavy rain produced mudslides in the region we were traveling. An entire village washed away, displacing hundreds of people. Many lost their lives – men in particular.
The day after our arrival, the head of the ministry approached us. They owned an abandoned school that was converted in to a storage facility. “There are some things we need to move from the school to a warehouse. Can you help out? It is going to be hard work.” “How bad could it be?” we asked ourselves.
The next few days were spent hauling 110 pound bags of beans from one storage facility to another. Honestly, I don’t think I have ever worked that hard in my life. Returning to the ministry each day, we spoke with teams from other parts of the U.S. “What did you guys do today?” we asked. “We hiked to this really cool waterfall and did some cliff jumping. You?” “We hauled bags of beans all day long.”
This interchange happened two days in a row. Finally, I begged their youth leader for help. Without it, this temporary shelter was not going to be completed. Curiously, it was the teenagers on his team that convinced him to participate. Fortunately, they agreed to help us and the shelter was up and running by weeks end.
People can be selfish. Cliff jumping sounded really fun and my team wanted to do it. However, the thought of helpless people not having a place to lay their heads seemed more important. Sacrificing our desires to help others was clearly the right thing to do.
Jesus sacrificed everything for us. His followers abandoned Him. The people He healed, fed and loved rejected Him for a murderer named Barabbas. He suffered unimaginable physical pain from His arrest until His dying breath on the cross. He became sin and was separated from His Father for the first time.
There are times in life when God may seem distant. Occasionally, we don’t feel His love for us. During these times, we have to remind ourselves of the cross. The cross is where God demonstrated His unfailing and eternal love for us. The cross is where God proclaims, “You are valuable. I believe in you. There is a plan and a purpose for your life. Let’s figure that out together.”
God created us in His image. That means that we are called to live life the way that Jesus did. Jesus never thought about His wants, needs or desires. Rather, He thought about us and what His death would accomplish for us.
God encourages us to be like Him. He asks that we esteem others more than ourselves. That is what it means to put on His love. It is what God’s kingdom looks like. In the end you will find that loving others like that is not a sacrifice at all. Rather, it is a complete joy.