In light of recent events and articles revolving around John Chau, we wanted to take a moment to honor the life of this remarkable young man. Many of us at YWAM Redding and in the city of Redding had the privilege of knowing John when his work brought him to the nearby Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. John was a friend, brother, and son, who was dearly loved by many.
We are thankful to have known John and for the impact that he had on our community. He inspired us (and continues to inspire us) to keep an intense focus on the eternal lives of people who have never heard the name of Jesus. As a missions group who are dedicated to the unreached, John felt like part of the family. His love for Jesus and for the lost spurred us again to hold eternity in much higher regard than our own comfort or the difficulties of this life.
Others who knew him here in Redding remarked of the light and energy that seemed to always emanate from him. He is known for having genuine care for people that made friends feel loved and pursued like Christ. His dedication to the call God placed on his life is an amazing example to all of us who profess to follow Jesus.
It was clear that the radiant joy and humility John carried was absolutely pure. He was vibrantly passionate to see the Sentinelese people come to know who God is. The love he so purely had for these people showed that nothing he did was out of selfish ambition. He had gained God’s heart for them and simply desired to worship God in obedience born of love.
No one has greater love than one who lays down his life for his friends. John was a true friend of Jesus.
John’s life challenges us to wrestle with what it means to be a friend of Jesus. In the Gospel of John, Jesus instructed us, “…love one another as I have loved you.” Then went on to say, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Just as Jesus showed us, sacrifice for the sake of another is a mark of true love and friendship. John Chau clearly was a friend of Jesus and of the Sentinelese.
Godly love calls us to consider the needs and desires of those we love as more important than our own. So then, if we profess to love Jesus, do we also know his desires?
The Desire Of Jesus
In John 17 we see Jesus with his disciples just before he is betrayed. In his last moments with those following him, Jesus prays, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you… I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world… and they have believed that you sent me.” v 20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
Verse 24 “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory… I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
His desire was (and is) for us all to eternally know the love and glory of the Father; to be with him forever in heaven. For this reason he willingly became the sacrifice for all to enter into eternal life. “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)
This was the motivation and chief desire of Jesus; that the world would be reconciled to the Father, that they would know him and know the Father, and that they would be made one with Him and filled with His love.
So what are we willing to lay down to fulfill the desire of Jesus? What would you give to tell the world that they can have eternal life through Him? Many of the world is still unreconciled, and in fact have never even heard who the One true God is. If we confess to love and follow Jesus, this love should lead us to declare his name and reveal his love. To what end are we willing to do this? At what point do we do we decide that something we have is greater to us than the love we have for our Savior?
The fathers of the church, the apostles, knew the worth of Jesus and were willing to give everything for the one they loved. It was for this reason that they chose to lay down their lives to advance the kingdom of God. They gave up everything to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ and to make him known and reveal his glory. This lead them away from their homes and families. It lead them to being hated and outcasted. It lead them to imprisonment and to persecution. Ultimately, for many of the apostles and early church, this love for Jesus lead them to death.
“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
We don’t need to go looking for persecution. But we should not be surprised when it comes, and we should not be surprised when obedience to God puts us in a position to endure it. Paul, friend of Jesus, even said in James 1, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.” and later in verse 12, “blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life.”
Extravagant offerings of love often don’t make sense to the world (Mark 14:3-9) but we are not of the world. In the end we know that every tribe, nation and tongue will surround the throne of God; and this is the inheritance of Jesus (Revelation 7:9). It is our privilege as friends of Jesus to take up our own cross and follow him. But take heart, for one day we will stand face to face with Love. In that day we will see His full glory revealed, and we will be with Him forever. We know that it says, “They [we] overcame [the evil one] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives, even unto death.” (Revelation 12:11)
Love and Friendship
The Desires of Jesus
(Hover or tap the reference to read the verse)
John 15:18-21 (the world hated me before they hated you)
Matthew 10:16-39 (whoever loses his life for my sake)
2 Thes 1:4-5 (worthy of the kingdom for which you suffer)
James 1:12 (remain steadfast under trial)
Hebrews 12:1-3 (running the race and the example of Jesus)
Acts 5:27-42 (continuing to spread the gospel in the face of harsh persecution)
Matthew 5:11-12 (blessed are the persecuted)
1 Peter 4:12-16 (rejoice in suffering)