I had an interesting dream last night. I dreamt one of my friends (no one I actually know, I think) was being hunted by some group of people (maybe CIA or Mafia). We met at a coffee shop to hang out and she told me what was going on. Out of the corner of her eye she saw one of the men stalking her. We quickly split and ran different ways. The rest of the dream was me trying to solve the problem and at the same time protecting her and keeping her safe. At the end of the dream, one of the "Hunters" fired a gun and I jumped in the way, taking the bullet for her. Then I woke up.
It's a strange, involved dream I know, but a normal one for me. According to friends I think to much...even when unconscious. My dreams are usually very long with elaborate story lines and usually deal with spies, war or something out of Bourne Identity. Chalk it up to me being a guy, I guess.
When I woke up, all I could think about was taking the bullet for the friend--I still can't remember her name or what she looked like. As I thought about the scene that played itself out in my head, it made me think of the sacrifice involved in true friendship. We enter into relationships so much of the time (this is part confession for me) thinking what we can get rather than what we can give. We want a good time. We want to laugh and be made to feel better. We want to be encouraged. We want all of this for the least amount of output, though. I know this sounds somewhat similar to my post on community, but it has been on my mind lately.
In our friendships, we need to be more concerned about the other person and the community than we are about ourselves. There are times we need sleep, but we have to wake up at two o'clock in the morning to talk when they need to talk. We don't do it because there may be a time where we need to do the same, but we do it because we love and we care and we desire to see that person healthy, happy and whole.
We need to get off this I/me kick in things and start thinking about other people and that is extremely hard growing up in the U.S. We are constantly barraged with thoughts of "Look out for Number One" and the like that we begin to take that seriously. Somehow we must deconstruct what's been built up in our heads and reconstruct a Christ-likeness in our friendships. It is relatively simple to only think about one's self in a relationship, isn't it? I'll confess that it is easy to only be concerned about me. Normally, though, those are the times I end up utterly alone. Who wants to be around someone who is only concerned about himself?
So, we need to love each other as brothers and sisters. This entails sacrificing time, money and energy to listen, hang and talk with the person. Why do we do it? Because we love them. The same reason Christ took our sin upon Himself: Love.
Friendship dictates the necessity for sacrifice. Because of the Love we've been lavished with and the love we have for our friends, there may come a time we may need to take the bullet for them. Regardless of whether or not that day comes, every day we live needs to have that attitude of sacrifice. I will take the bullet for my friends; I will sacrifice whatever I can because I love them. Regardless of their reaction, I will do it.
For those we love (i.e. our friends), let us take the bullet every day not out of obligation, the opportunity for sympathy, or even the thought that they would do the same. Let us take the bullet because we love and that because we are Loved! I'm not sure I'll ever be called to take a literal bullet for a friend, but I know that every day I am called upon to sacrifice something for a friend. Sometimes I do it, other times I do not. One thing I despise doing is talking on the phone. When a friend calls, I want the business to be taken care of and to hang up the phone. Perhaps next time I can just listen and talk and even sacrifice my personal feelings in order to spend time with that friend. I guess I need to take the bullet, then, huh? There are things each of us need to sacrifice and take the bullet for in our friendships, though, aren't there?
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
--The Gospel according to John the Apostle, 15:13
until Christ is formed in us...