My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: 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 servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. John 15:12-15
I had the opportunity to get away with four of my friends for Memorial Day this weekend. Even before the weekend started, I was a little on edge; I had to work late on Friday, and I didn't want to make my friends wait on me, so I told them they could go ahead if they needed to, and I'd catch up later. They quickly responded, "no, we want to wait for you!" It was a simple but sweet gesture that was only a short glimpse into the weekend.
These friends are unique. Even though they're two couples, I tell them frequently that I never feel like a fifth wheel, and perhaps I bring it up so often because it's a rare and beautiful kindness they show me every time I feel like one of the group instead of the addition to the pair. If you've ever been the odd number, you know what I mean. I was so humbled by how they lived out Jesus' command to "love each other as I have loved you," in their conversation, inclusion, and friendship. From the small town rodeo to random wine tastings and board games, every moment was filled with laughter and joy and love.
I loved that, when the guys went out to climb a mountain or catch fish, the girls stayed back and created: we knitted and painted and drew and did all sorts of things right up my alley. And we talked-- we shared stories that you for some reason feel more comfortable sharing while out of town, even if you're used to being together pretty often. We laughed and cried and loved one another in a way that made me feel so grateful to call them my dear friends. These are the people who I can text or call with a prayer request, a hilarious dating escapade, or a quick video of something absurd. They are the first to encourage and the last to judge.
I witnessed tangible examples over and over again of what Paul means when he says, "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her". John and Scott constantly served their wives all weekend (and I was also the lucky beneficiary of their selflessness), from moving bags and killing bugs to driving through rainstorms and checking the river levels. There wasn't anything they weren't willing to do to create comfort, fun, and ease for us.
When I got home yesterday afternoon, I was exceedingly grateful that I am able to call these friends "my people". They live out the love of Christ and the joy of discipleship in the big and small ways. In the ways that I am too talkative and self-deprecating and intense, they are gentle and encouraging and immensely kind. They model that marriage is both fierce commitment and patient love working in tandem, that love is always patient, always kind, always humble, always forgiving, always truthful, always protecting, always trusting, always hoping, always persevering. They show me Jesus in ways that I would never know apart from knowing them.
I have had some reservations about Bob Goff's view of "Love Does", not that I don't believe that love is an action, but more that I don't ever want to forget Jesus. But the more I get to witness my friends love others, and be the beneficiary of their love as well, I believe that Bob is pretty spot on when he says, "Most of the time when God has something to say to us.. he doesn't pass us messages, instead He passes us each other". Jesus loved his friends so much, He was constantly demonstrating teaching them through his actions. My friends did that for me this weekend, and I'm so grateful for their example of what it means to love others.