I am usually the last one that enters into a gunfight.
To my teammate's dismay, my buddies are usually outnumbered by the time I enter into a team battle. They will usually still win the battle because they are much more skilled; however, it's often way too close to call.
I am always told that if I had entered together, we would guarantee to win it. The percentage of winning the gunfight goes up because the opponents would not be able to focus on just one target, but several at a time. We would also have more guns in the fight, increasing our overall damage. You take some, and you give some.
But at the end of the day, everyone on the team has to be willing to take a few shots for each other in order to come out on top.
I avoid getting shot at by nature. If I hear shots fired in the distance, I automatically run in the opposite direction. I let my teammates go first because I want to see how bad it is before jumping in; this is a horrible mindset! Not to mention, what an awful teammate I am!
Nobody wants a friend like that. We don't want a friend who leaves us behind as bait or treats us as shields. But, on the other hand, we value friends who are willing to step in front of us, who are willing to lay down their life for us.
Jesus taught and modelled for us what a good friend is in John 15 (v12-15). He says,
This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn't confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.
Jesus explained to his disciples that they are his friends because they also share in the knowledge of His Father; they know about the Father through Jesus, and they believe because of Jesus. He also told them that they are his friends if they do what he commanded, and that commandment is to love each other in the same way Jesus loved them. This commandment to love is shown through Jesus laying down his life for them and us.
This lesson to lay down our lives for our friends does not come automatically. Even Peter needed to learn this as he denied his relationship with Jesus when he was arrested. It's a counterintuitive lesson for us because we think self-preservation is our highest priority and the only way to stay alive. And we are only alive for maybe 100 years max, right? We don't see that what causes us to die is sin. We don’t see eternity because we are sinful people.
Jesus' call to give up our lives for others, especially our friends, is not a call to end our lives, but it is a call to embrace our lives now and our lives in eternity. If we are Jesus' friends, then we will be with Him for eternity. Life doesn't end because we give it up for others right now, but on the contrary, it testifies to our eternal reality with Him.
Living in the knowledge of this reality should make Christians the perfect friend to others! We know the risk to love others is worth it, and we endeavour to witness this kind of love to those who do know who Jesus is.
Are you practicing this same kind of love to other brothers and sisters in Christ today? Are you learning to bear with one another in your local church family even though you may be very different than everyone else? If we can't practice loving each other in the church well, how will the world know Jesus is real? If we can’t even get along with others, why would anyone believe we are willing to give up our lives for others?
Let’s make this commandment from Jesus a priority: Love each other in the same way I have loved you... Love each other. This is not a give-and-take kind of relationship, our relationship in Christ is not a business contract, but rather it is a genuine response in loving others as Christ loved us.
Take the bullet for one another; you will not regret it for eternity.