“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.” (John 15:13-14)
As we consider the context of the setting in which Jesus spoke these words, we see that Jesus uttered them to His disciples on the night He was betrayed, the night before He was crucified. In the context of this passage Jesus told His disciples (which includes us), that we are no longer mere servants, but friends. This does not mean we are His equals in terms of authority and power but that we are partners, co-workers in the ministry of salvation. We are His friends if we follow His command to love one another. We are His friends as we are commissioned to go into the entire world and preach the gospel in His name. Part of the fruit we are to bear involves witnessing to others about the love of Christ but it goes further. Love means performing deeds of righteousness, compassion, and mercy for those who are undeserving and sinful, because that is what Jesus did for us.
If we look at the love of God, we see that it contrasts sharply with the concept of love promoted by our culture and certainly by the media and Hollywood. Our culture’s definition of love is an emotion or feeling or sensual desire that is self-centered. Perhaps that is why so many marriages and relationships these days fall apart. The parties involved look to get something out of the relationship rather than to give some blessing or favor to the other.
Love as demonstrated and revealed by Jesus is not self-centered, but other centered. The love of God and the love He would have us share is a choice, an act of the will to do what is best for the one who is loved. The love of Jesus is self-sacrificing. He sacrificed His life on the cross for those He loves. This then is what love means: sacrificing and using our life, our time, talents, and treasures for God and for others.