Sunday, September 7, 2014

The best kind of love.

So as I've mentioned, I've been binge-watching Criminal Minds lately. God bless 2014 and all the websites that upload free episodes of TV shows that you can't access on network websites.

Well, in one of the episodes I watched yesterday, a group of teens were trapped in a metal cage and forced to participate in this bizarre battle-to-the-death by two creepy obsessed gamers. It involved shock collars and was just so creepy. In one scene, one of the gamers called one of the girls, Wendy, forward because it was her turn to go into a round, and she started panicking and sobbing even harder. One of the gamers shocked her hard, and so she was going to go forward, but suddenly, the boy who had a longstanding crush on her, Billy, jumped in front of her and shouted, "I'll take her place! I'll go in her place!"

It didn't mean much to me at the time, it seemed like an expected turn in a TV show (what came next wasn't, but that's for another time), but then, this morning at church, we sang the song "This is Amazing Grace," and since then, I've been thinking about this scene.  You probably know the song, but in case you don't, the chorus goes like this:

This is amazing grace
This is unfailing love
That you would take my place
That you would bear my cross
You would lay down your life
So I could be set free
Jesus, I sing for
All that you've done for me

And those words got me thinking about Billy and Wendy and that scene. Yes, it was just two teenagers, a stupid crush, a deathly video game brought to life, and on a TV show, no less, but what Billy did, it was such a vivid picture to me of what Jesus did.  Billy's love for Wendy, whatever form it may have been in as a high school boy, caused him to step forward, thinking he could save her from harm by offering himself instead. Billy offered to take Wendy's place in the gun battle. He knew it wasn't going to end well for him, but he knew that he would rather save her than watch her die.

Jesus knew it wasn't going to end well for him, either. He knew as he carried that cross up the hill exactly what kind of pain and torture waited for him, but he walked forward anyway. He offered himself up so that I, you, every one of us could be saved. He gave his life for us. Plain and simple. And anyone who has come to know Jesus knows that his love was, is, and will always be the perfect love that all broken souls long for. He took wrath upon himself so that we didn't have to.

John 15:13 Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

Billy cared for Wendy so deeply that he was willing to literally lay down his life to protect her.  The Bible says right there in that verse that that is the strongest, best, ultimate kind of love we could ever ask for.  And the important thing is that in the game, Wendy hadn't done anything to deserve to die, it was all at the whim of her kidnappers, but we did. We deserved to die and God made a way, anyway, so that we didn't have to.

People throw around the phrase "I would take a bullet for you" or the like as a way of showing their closeness with or adoration for someone else, but I think a lot of us, if it came down to it, would probably pick ourselves over other people. Even me. There is only a select group of people that I would even think about giving my life for, but in the moment, I'm not sure how I would react. That's the honest truth, my selfish nature at its best. I like living too much.

I want to be like Jesus, though. Like Billy. To love everyone around me so deeply that I would give anything to save their lives. Even myself. Because that's the best kind of love, that sacrificial love, and I've been the recipient of it too many times to not pay it forward.

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