Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13, ESV)
On Monday, we talked about the tie between worship and sacrifice. Jesus says that there is no greater love than one who would lay down his life for his friends. There is no one who personifies this more than Jesus himself.
Today, I write this out of gratitude. I write in gratitude of my Savior who gave his life for me. He endured the cross, scorning its shame, so that I might be saved from my sin. He took the pain and the punishment that I deserved and made it his own. Thank you Jesus for the tremendous gift of salvation.
I also think about the many others who have given their lives. We look to those who have served our country. There are those who died on the battlefield. There are also those who live everyday with the physical and emotional wounds of war. Their sacrifices secured the freedom that we enjoy this day. We salute them.
I am also grateful for those who continue to put their life on the line every day. There are the first responders. There is law enforcement. We are thankful for what they do that enables us to live in relative peace, safety, and security.
I also am reminded of the persecuted church. I think about the Christians in Egypt this past Sunday who were victims of a terrorist attack. There are many who have faced martyrdom throughout the centuries as a result of their confession of faith. We are grateful for their steadfastness in the face of death. Hebrews 11 describes these people:
Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. (Hebrews 11:35–38, ESV)
Our prayer is that God would keep those who suffer persecution strong in faith. We pray that their suffering would serve as a witness even to their persecutors. And we pray that we would have the faith and resolve to endure persecution and martyrdom if that fate would befall us. Finally, we give thanks to God for the crown of righteousness and the reward that is given to all who suffer for the sake of the gospel.
Lord, thank you for your sacrifice on the cross. Thank you for the many who have made sacrifices to give us a better life. We lift up the persecuted church and those who put their life on the line to follow you. Keep them strong in their confession of faith. Give them endurance. May their witness serve to create and build faith in others. Keep us strong in our faith that we might endure persecution if that day should come. May all of us who live by faith long for the day when we will join in glory and victory. Amen.