“No one has greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends…”
If I believe that Jesus and I are such friends, then there are consequences. If I want to try to love as Jesus loves, I have to keep learning how to lay down my life. I lay down my preoccupation with myself, whatever that may be at a given moment, in order to be really present to another. Laying down my life in this instance is, “leaning in to listen”.
I lay down my need to be right or to justify my point of view, in favor of a curiosity and genuine desire to understand one who challenges or contradicts me. Laying down my life means cultivating a willingness to let other “friends” of Jesus, especially those most forgotten or marginalized, direct how I use my time, energy and resources.
Maybe some future day, laying down my life will require the kind of active non-violence that has physical consequences, as it did for Jesus. But in the meantime, on most days these little ways of laying it down will be as much or more than I can manage. I can only trust that they provide the practice I need to grow towards greater love…to be a better friend.