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My wife and I were watching a show on TV where the main person in the storyline was a military man, Joe, who had killed his best friend, Jack, who was also in the military. As Joe was on trial for the murder of Jack, he was open about his struggle with PTSD. Joe had confessed to the police that he had killed Jack, so his attorney’s defense was on the grounds of diminished capacity due to his PTSD. Joe and Jack were best friends, and there was no evidence to contradict this, so everyone struggled to understand what had caused Joe to kill Jack. Joe’s defense team goes back to the crime scene and discovers that based on the setting of where the murder took place, it was impossible things happened, as Joe had stated. His defense team confronts him with what they believe actually happened. Joe admits to them that he did not kill Jack. Joe was with Jack at the location of Jack’s death, trying to get Jack to admit he needed help and that reenlisting for another tour was not the answer. As Joe turned toward the truck to get some drinks, Jack pulled out his gun and took his own life right in front of Joe. These two friends had more in common than their military service as they both battled with severe PTSD; however, Jack was in denial and refused to get help.

This was obviously a huge turn of events in the courtroom when the defense attorney got Joe to admit on the stand that Jack also struggled with PTSD. His attorney asks Joe the question you are probably thinking of yourself. “If Jack killed himself, why did you confess to killing him?” With an outburst of emotion, Joe blurts out, “because I wanted Jack to be honored as the hero that he is. I did not want his life to be defined by his struggle!”

Even knowing Joe's reasoning, for the majority of us civilians, we do not really understand why Joe would say he killed Jack when he did not. However crazy it might sound to us, I believe Joe did this because he understood the sacrifices his friend had paid in the military to serve his country. What enabled Joe to sacrifice was his understanding of Jack's sacrifice.

As I went to bed that night after watching this show, my questions and thoughts in my mind began to go deeper. Why do people either struggle to or refuse to take their faith seriously? Why is it easy for people who confess to being "Christians" to make their relationship with Jesus something they will get to when they have time? Why do Christians not prioritize growing as a disciple of Jesus? Why do so few Christians actually tithe? Why do Christians not show compassion, love, and grace to people different from themselves? Why has the main draw for Christians on Sunday morning become more about being entertained than participating in the mission of God?

We could point our finger at many things, but the main thing I believe is at the center of a lot of this is that we do not understand the sacrifice. If a person does not understand the sacrifice Jesus paid on the cross, taking on the punishment for the sins of humanity, so that we could receive forgiveness for those sins, we will never see the value and importance of the things I questioned above. When we do not understand the value of Jesus' sacrifice in our humanness, our lives will become at odds with the sacrifice by making other things more valuable.

In John 15:12, Jesus commands his disciples to "love each other." This statement is not anything new that we have not heard Jesus say before; however, Jesus finishes this statement to love each other by telling us how we are to love. He says, "love each other as I have loved you." In order for us to love each other the way that Jesus commands us to, we have to grow in our understanding of the sacrifice. Jesus goes on in John 15:13 to say, "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends." Sacrificing for others flows out of our understanding of Jesus' sacrifice for us.

Do you understand the sacrifice? Your life is a reflection of your understanding of the sacrifice, so what is your life revealing to others? What can you do to grow in your understanding of Jesus’ sacrifice?