My brother is a police officer, which, as you might expect, gives me angst, especially during the past few weeks. Because he is a police officer in one of the tougher areas in the state, he deals with many tragic and appalling situations. When I saw him on the 4th of July, one of the things he said struck me;
“Most of the situations – maybe all of the situations – I deal with in my job happen because of love.”
We were talking about how dangerous and risky love is and what makes us reluctant to dive into deep relationships.
I wanted to dispute his statement because I knew he was talking about robberies, drug deals, suicides, speeding accidents – a bunch of crime and sadness, but I couldn’t. The harder I thought about his statement, the more truth I saw.
We love ourselves, we love others, we love things, so we fight and kill and go to extraordinary and even illegal lengths to protect who and what we love. We lie, we hide, we cheat, we steal, we avenge, we take justice into our own hands. We do whatever it takes when what we love is at stake.
At the core of human nature is the God-given declaration that love is worthy of our death; death is eclipsed by love. Love is willing to die.
Humanity will die for love.
This answer doesn’t surprise Christians who realize the poignancy of John 3:16. God died for so many reasons eloquently laid out in other Bible verses and in books such as John Piper’s The Passion of Jesus Christ. However, John 3:16 clearly lays out one potent reason; God died for the love of us.
A couple months ago, I attended the Together for the Gospel 2016 conference. The theme of the conference was the Protestant Reformation, and most, if not all, of the speakers elaborated on the stories of particular Protestant martyrs. I found the theme daunting and chilling. Each suffering death implied the question; would I – could I – die for God?
After David Platt closed the conference with a stirring, emotional message specifically on martyrdom, I rose to sing the final songs, knowing the ugly truth about myself;
If a gunman burst into this stadium right now, I wouldn’t be able to confess Him. I couldn’t face a gun. Not in any situation. I can’t die for God.
Sometimes seeing the truth about myself hurts.
Many Christians have come to grips with martyrdom based on God’s actions for us. I’ve heard Christians say, “Dying for Him would be the least I could do. It’s the greatest sacrifice. He died for me. Why shouldn’t I be willing to sacrifice my life for Him?” That mindset is beautiful and true, but I’m ashamed to say that I don’t have it.
Skip to the 4th of July, an unrelated conversation with my brother, weeks after the conference has mulled in my subconscious mind, after the recent shootings and events, everything came together in my mind.
History, fairy tale, legend, crime, movies, music, and novels show that humanity will die for love.
Romeo and Juliet. Antony and Cleopatra. The Twilight Saga. Jesus Christ. Charles Dicken’s The Tale of Two Cities. Bruno Mars’ Grenade.
This death-for-love complex is a foundation of our nature.
I believe that this integral part of our nature is part of God’s endowed divinity on us. God created human nature deeply ingrained with a part of His personality. We are His image bearers, made like Him. Unfortunately, we often have a backward and warped way of expressing this part of our nature, but it’s still there. We don’t have to look any further than what’s popular in our culture today to see that we still firmly hold to dying for love.
No, I still don’t think that I’m willing to sacrifice my life for God. But I also don’t think my death would be any kind of sacrifice to God. After all, what can I give Him? Sacrifice implies giving up something without assurance of gaining anything. What would I even be giving up without sure gain?
However, the God-given part of me would be willing to die for true love.
If nothing else, recent events demonstrate that real love is incredibly rare and precious in the world. In fact, it barely exists in its true form.
When I see and experience God’s true love for me personally and contrast it to what happens in the world, I think my willingness to die for God becomes stronger and stronger. He alone has a true, genuine, unfailing love for me, and since I am as He made me, I’d die for Love Himself.
I’d die for Love Himself.