Have Been and Always Shall Be Your Friend

Need a chuckle? Watch this Audi commercial. Don’t buy an Audi. Or a Mercedes. Just watch the ad. iO9 called it the “the greatest car commercial ever” and the 2:43-short is a fascinating piece of meta-science-fiction.

[youtube WPkByAkAdZs Zachary Quinto vs. Leonard Nimoy: “The Challenge”]

“I have been . . . and always shall be . . . your friend,” rasps Lenard Nemoy (old Spock) to Zachary Quinto (new Spock). It’s a parody of his character in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) and the reference thirty years later in Star Trek Into Darkness (2013).

<Spoiler Alert> In the first version, Spock dies from exposure to the warp core, but the actions that kill him save the crew. In the second version, Kirk is the one who pays this price. (Don’t worry. They’re both resurrected.)

The biblical reference is blatant. Jesus tells his disciples, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command” (John 15:12–14 NIV). Of course, Jesus dies for his friends. (Don’t worry. He’s resurrected.)

The love-part is popular enough. The next equation, not so much: My command is love. Love means to lay down your life for your friends. Therefore I’m commanding you to lay down your life for your friends. (Don’t worry. You’ll be resurrected.)

But I do worry. I imagine you do, too.

Here are some tensions worth exploring as we endure the shift in seasons from winter to spring and as we walk with Jesus through the spiritual season of Lent.

~ My sense of self-preservation doesn’t like the odds that anyone else will lay down her life for me (literally or figuratively). Aside from obeying Jesus’ command—no small thing—why should I “lay down my life” for someone else?

~ Personal experience suggests that most of the time spending myself for another is expensive for me and the results are cheap for him. After all, it cost him nothing. Furthermore, I don’t generally save the 800 lives that Spock does with my self-sacrifice, not to mention the world that Jesus does. What is the value of my sacrifice? To whom? Or perhaps a better way to ask this: If my works abide because I abide in him and he in God (v. 16), what does it mean that my work of laying down my life “abides”?

~ Plus, I just found an excellent article suggesting eight ways to graciously decline spending oneself. Here. I recommend it. I’m not sure that it’s wrong. If I take Jesus’ command seriously, how do these ideas fit with his command?

~ Jesus points out that “the world” will find the concept of self-sacrifice, indeed Jesus’ entire plan, ludicrous. The world will “hate” him (v. 18), so they will hate me if I follow his plan (v. 20). This will explain my lack of popularity, perhaps give me comfort, but how will it guard me from internalizing the hatred, from coming to feel that I deserve it?

Have I missed anything? Am I asking the wrong questions? What other questions have you of John 15? And what of John 14:15–31; does it offer any clues to the answers?

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