“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”John 15:13
In 2016 I had the pleasure of a 10 day holiday in North France near a town called Soissons. When you drive around the area, you cannot miss that a war had been fought there; war graves are evident everywhere you go. Not far away, in Compiegne, was the train carriage where the Armistice was signed at 11am, on the 11th November 1918, that ended all hostilities in the war that was supposed to end all wars. But, what struck me most during my visit were the caves, carved into chalky hills that served as barracks for the allied troops, into which I descended to explore.
In these caves were hand-carved insignia of the military units barracked there, but most astonishingly too was the carving out of chapels, replete with cross and altar. The most poignant thing about one of the chapels was the stairway at the side of the altar which lead to the trenches where, it was said, the soldiers went to die after making their peace with God……
Every year we remember those soldiers for the sacrifice they made for the freedoms we enjoy today. No less significant of course, are the wars fought since then – Europe, Northern Ireland, The Falklands, The Middle East, to name but a few – to the same end.
Sacrifice is a fundamental human characteristic. It is the very thing that enables us to thrive as a race, as breadwinners sacrifice themselves to keep their families out of poverty; as parents sacrifice themselves to raise children; as we all give of ourselves to the betterment of our friends and for society, but, it is also at the very heart of the Good News of God (What the Bible calls the Gospel).
Jesus, God’s Son, was Himself sacrificed, 2000 years ago, on a Cross for the freedom of all mankind. In the battle for our souls, He put the human race before Himself as He died to make an end of Death and to bring peace; peace in our hearts before God. He died: that we might live – if only we would surrender to the call of Jesus, to:
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”Matthew 11:29
The person who sacrifices his or her life calls you a ‘friend’ because they laid down their lives for you to live. Likewise, Jesus calls YOU ‘friend’ because He laid down His life that you might live forever – If only you would believe.
Friends, peace IS possible; even while wars continue to rage, and even while fighting one yourself – battles come in many forms – because, it is possible to attain peace on the inside.
God came in His Son for this very reason.
As you one day ascend those steps, like the ones in the cave, will you have made your peace with God first – are you able to call yourself a God’s friend?
“The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”Philippians 4:5-7