Everyday Martyrdom

Everyday Martyrdom

by Michaella Osborn, Boulder, Colo.


       “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13 NIV)


You’ve heard this verse, right? Of course you have. It may have been a pastor talking about how Jesus gave us the ultimate expression of love by dying for us, or a Christian education teacher talking about martyrs.

I do wonder though, if not all of us have been called to martyrdom, or to die for our friends, how can we express love in the greatest way? Well if we are defining “lay down one’s life” as dying, we can’t.

But what if laying down your life is something we could do every day? I recently heard a message about how sacrifice is a way that we can express love.

This makes a lot of sense. Many of us claim that we would die for someone, but what does that really mean? When was the last time you heard of a murderer about to shoot someone until a friend or relative of that person ran out and said, “Shoot me instead”? Or someone running into a burning building to get a family member to safety but not making it out himself? Or even of someone being killed because they refused to denounce Christ? Unless you actively seek out this kind of story, the answer probably is “not recently.”

When was the last time that YOU had an opportunity to sacrifice something for someone you love? Maybe it’s hard to think of a specific time, so let me put it this way. When was the last time you had the chance to do an extra chore so your parents didn’t have to, or see a movie with your friend that they wanted to see and you didn’t? Even give up some screen time for a sibling? I imagine something like this has happened to you more recently.

My friend Rachael is a great example of this. We have our fights, and don’t always see eye to eye on everything, but it would be boring if we did. We have a very deep, meaningful friendship. We met at camp one summer when I was going into the 6th grade, and have been close friends ever since.

One thing that keeps us close is that we both like to do things for one another. We know that this can be a relationship that carries on for many years if we continue to “lay down our lives” for one another. For instance, she is incredibly busy during the school year, but she still makes an effort to see me as often as possible because she knows it’s important to our friendship. I put up with her blaring country music, and both of us have given up much-needed sleep on multiple occasions for the sake of the other.

Christ did this too. He often sacrificed many other things for the sake of his friends and followers. He washed the feet of twelve of his closest friends. He gave up rest and many other comforts that most of us couldn’t imagine living without so He could better minister to His followers.

He even asked His friends to sacrifice for Him. When He was praying the night before His crucifixion, he asked the disciples to stay awake with Him. Sadly they fell short (and asleep), but this story still shows that Jesus wanted His friends to sacrifice for Him.

So what if we changed our definition of laying down our lives from dying for someone or something, to sacrificing for it, and choosing to suffer on behalf of it? It is harder to act on something than to say something, but I think it would be worth our while.

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