Greater love has no one than this, that you lay down your life for your friends. - John 15:13
Christian truth has many aspects. Together they create a paradox. Somehow in the wisdom of God, in the depth and richness of our life and God's life, some things are true and at the same time bigger than we can understand.
One example is that Christian history tells us we are free to make choices and that what we choose will determine what our life will be. Yet, on the other hand, Scriptures tell us that God knew it all from the beginning anyhow. Somehow God is so big and has so designed the world that both are completely true; they don't cancel each other out. It's a paradox.
Laying down our lives for one another is like that. We come into Christian community believing that here above all places we are going to love one another; we are going to give ourselves. There's a calling on our lives, and as we come together in covenant, faith, and sacrifice, there's a tremendous flow of love.
Yet, there is the paradox: At the very place where we have come together to love one another more fully, more sacrificially, more deeply, it seems we end up hurting and disappointing one another.
In my experience, both sides of the paradox are descriptive of Christian community. This is where God's love and the love of brothers and sisters for one another is profoundly revealed. But Christian community is a place where the lack of love seems also to be manifest.
When we come into Christian community we have a vision of laying down our lives for our friends. We don't understand what this means, but as we are together its meaning begins to unfold.