John 15:13 reads: “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
No greater love than giving our life for our friends…is a self-existent moral principle. It is independent of us. We did not invent it. It is a part of the natural moral law that governs all right behavior. We cannot claim the credit for its existence. It is just there…part of reality.
We do find varying degrees of expression for this character trait within the broad, expansive zone of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…in the self-sacrificing bravery of risking one’s life for others found within the bond of the “brotherhood of soldiers” in warfare…or the person diving into a raging river risking their own life to save someone from drowning.
Other examples on a lighter and non-dangerous level might be found in team sports when players sometimes give up their own individual glory for the sake of the overall team win…or as commonly seen in the “soccer mom” sacrificing her own time and interests by shuttling her children from one activity venue to another day-after-day…and in the father giving up his time on weekends to coach the little league baseball team or to be active in his son’s Boy Scouts troop.
As Abraham travels from the city of Haran towards the Promised Land of Canaan…with every step he takes his normative plans for life back in Haran are being displaced by a new and higher plan devised within the imaginative mind of God…above and beyond anything Abraham could or would have come up with.
Within the higher ways of God…Abraham will grow in character to become the “father of faith”…having a close personal relationship with God…and through faith Abraham will give physical and spiritual birth to multitudes of descendants as numerous as the stars in the night sky (Gen. 15:3-6).
As Abraham travels from Haran to Canaan, and much later in his life on Mount Moriah with Isaac, God inaugurates through Abraham a theme for living…the cross of Christ…”not my will, but thine, be done” (Lk. 22:42; Jn. 5:30)…that ingeniously blends a personal relationship with God and the “no greater love” of laying down our lives for our friends.
Within this God-composed life-script for Abraham is the cost of leaving behind “worldly conventional normalcy and thinking” in Haran. Integral with each step Abraham takes towards Canaan and away from normalcy in Haran, Abraham unknowingly is “laying down his life for his friends”…the future multitudes of people who would likewise engage with the living God through the coming centuries.
In the life-scripts of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Ruth, Hannah, Samuel, David, Esther and Mordecai, Elijah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Peter, John, James, Paul, Barnabas, Silas, Luke, and Timothy…to name only a few…this component of laying down their lives for their friends…after the pattern of the cross of Jesus Christ…is integrally interwoven into the fabric of their lives.
It is vitally important for Spirit-born Christians today to recognize that in the God-composed journey of faith life-scripts we find recorded in the Bible…the precise circumstances and situations are designed by God to actualize in our lives the context for the “greater love” to find expression…way above the level of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking.
In every biblical-quality adventure of faith then and now…there is an element of the cross of Jesus Christ that materializes into real action…this giving up of our lives for our friends.
God writes into our life-script this elevated character trait so that we also can experience a portion of divine, self-sacrificing love (Eph. 2:10; 1 Pet. 2:9).
A journey of faith God-script for our lives is written for us…and for the people God can minister to through us.
A God-composed adventure of faith for our lives takes this attribute of self-sacrificing “greater love”…and lifts it ingeniously and brilliantly to a higher point on the vertical graph-line spectrum of goodness and light …above what is found and experienced within worldly conventional normalcy and thinking.
This entire scheme of reality is above and beyond what humanistic thinking and contrivance could or would imagine or self-orchestrate…in terms of being interwoven into a precise life-script of complex, ordered, and detailed events and circumstances having purpose.
A God-composed journey of faith life-script is for us…ourselves and others…as a gift from God to us in keeping with the same self-sacrificing love when God gave Himself to us in the Person of Jesus Christ to the world:
“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Lk. 2:13-14).
This very real discovery of the “greater love” of laying down our lives for our friends…interwoven into the life-scripts of every biblical narrative story of faith…patterned after the cross and the resurrection in the life of Jesus Christ the Son of God…is inexplicable other than as compelling and persuasive evidence for a divine origin of the Bible.
What possible frame of reference within worldly conventional normalcy and thinking could produce the origin of journeys of faith following the living God…beginning with the “father of faith” Abraham sometime around 2,200 B.C.?
This concept of God displacing our ways with His higher ways…the essence of the cross of Christ…is not even fully understood or taught in orthodox Christianity today.
Every day across the globe…Christians are challenged by the difficult transition from self-sovereignty to God-sovereignty…which is the essence of a genuine walk of faith.
What random assemblage of life experiences, therefore, would or could inspire the first Jewish writers…at the time of the Exodus…to invent this radical concept of a living journey of faith following the real God…built around the unconventional theme of “not my will, but thine, be done” of the cross of Christ…that did not actualize until approximately 1,450 years later in the capital city of Jerusalem in the first-century (Ps. 22; Isa. 53)?
If we grant the notion that we were not created as robots…and if we concede that the depravity of man is clearly seen in history and in current daily events around the world…then it is reasonable to postulate that the intelligent designer who crafted people with the innate capacity for experiencing personal relationships and for moral reasoning…would in fact insert into this world an alternative way to actualize our created potential.
That way is a God-composed journey of faith life-script…as patterned for us in the narrative stories of faith in the Bible.
From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity.