Bishop David Kendall, of the Free Methodist Church, was our guest speaker Sunday. “God is Love,” was his topic, and he did a great job of developing that theme. One story the bishop told was of a marine who saved the lives of his buddies in Fallujah, Iraq, by absorbing the blast of an enemy grenade with his body. Already suffering gunshot wounds, Sergeant Rafael Peralta pulled the grenade under his body, allowing his fellow Marines to get out of the house; he died instantly.

Reverend Kendall shared that this is how Jesus loves us … only Jesus died not to save his friends, but he died for his enemies.

Bishop Kendall told other examples of real people exemplifying God’s love that were powerful and worth hearing.

But it’s this story of Sergeant Peralta that is haunting me. Living here in “the Arbor Bubble,” it’s highly unlikely I will ever face a live grenade. I’ve been caught short a few times already (and it’s only Tuesday) with the thought, “If you say that, you’re launching a verbal grenade.” Unkind words and actions “lobbed” in anger, spite, pride are devastating.

Can I absorb the impact of verbal grenades launched in my presence? Am I willing to squelch rumors, call others out on gossip and not take part in unkind talk? Will I offer sympathy and empathy to someone hurting from attacks?

Sergeant Rafael Peralta died in 2004. I hate that he died. I would rather he be alive and not an example. But that’s not the way it is. I am thankful for his bravery and selflessness and for the impact his story is having on my life.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 1 John 3:16

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