Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ that we proclaim is the most radical beauty, the most sacrificially giving love. It stands in bold contrast to the world: Jesus calls us " come to me and follow me even to laying down your life for your enemies" versus most religions and voices of the world, "be, have, do the best." Give your life away and you will have all gain. Quest for gain and superiority and self-satisfaction and all you'll have is loss. (Matt 16:26) In Jesus, we see loving-to-death beauty. This is what's all over the story of Ronnie Smith's life too, it seems. Ronnie Smith, a well-loved chemistry teacher at an international school in Benghazi, Libya, was murdered, shot multiple times, last Thursday while he jogged near the U.S. Consulate there where he lived. His wife and 3 year old son had returned to the states before him and were waiting just a few more days to celebrate Christmas with him there.
John Piper wrote a post about him, sharing, "I want to respond because Ronnie wrote to us at Desiring God last year and told us that one of my messages was significant in leading him and his family to Libya." The whole post is weighty, if you can even read it through tear eyes. Here's a bit of it...
...The whole point of Ronnie’s life is that there is something worse than death. So he was willing to risk his own life to rescue others from something far worse. And he could risk his own life because he knew his own risking and dying would work for him “an eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17). And he knew God was able to meet every need of his wife and son (Philippians 4:19).
We are not playing games. When I preach that risk is right, I know what I am doing. When I say, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him — especially in suffering,” I know what suffering may mean. When I say, “Fear not, you can only be killed” (Matthew 10:28), I take seriously the words of Jesus: “Some of you they will put to death. . . . But not a hair of your head will perish” (Luke 21:16, 18).
Finally, I call thousands of you to take Ronnie’s place. They will not kill us fast enough. Let the replacements flood the world. We do not seek death. We seek the everlasting joy of the world — including our enemies. If they kill us while we love them, we are in good company. Jesus did not call us to ease or safety. He called us to love for the sake of his name. Everywhere. Among all peoples.
Anita and Hosea, I love you. I am sorry, so sorry, for your loss. I admire you and Ronnie profoundly. Hold fast to this: “God has not destined you (or Ronnie) for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him” (1 Thessalonians 5:9–10).