Question:While teaching the adult class I made the statement that a true characteristic of Christian love is that one would be willing to lay down his/her life for his/her friends. One lady stated that she could not do that. What are your thoughts? How would you answer this lady's comment?
"Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends" (John 15:13)
Jesus' statement is that the ultimate expression of love is the willingness to lay down his life for those he loves. In this he is referring to his own sacrifice. "For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:7-8).
One goal of being a Christian is to grow to be like Christ. "But, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head -- Christ -- from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love" (Ephesians 4:15-16). Growth is the goal, but few make it anywhere close to the perfection of Christ.
Having love to the extent of Christ is what we should strive to have, but at the same time, most Christians have not yet obtain that level of devotion to their brethren. Because a Christian currently lacks that level of commitment, it does not mean they are any less a Christian. The lady is admitting that she has an area in which she needs to grow. When a person gets to the point of being truly willing to lay down his life for a friend, then there is no more growth needed in the realm of love because that is the ultimate expression of love.
The best answer is Paul's. "And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints" (I Thessalonians 3:12-13).