What did Jesus do for us? He laid His life down for us. Therefore, we are to lay our lives down for each other for the motivation of that love. If we obey Him then Jesus says that we are His friends. Who then obeys Him and who does not? A servant obeys his or her master unquestionably, but our Lord says that we obey Him because He has revealed the truth to us. This truth, empowered by the Holy Spirit within us, gives us the ability to obey Him. Jesus chose His sheep; the sheep did not choose Him. This choice also included an appointment to go and bear eternal fruit. Notice also that all of this includes that His sheep love one another.
16 We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 1 John 3:16 (NASB)
What differentiates a genuine Christian from one whose religion is only skin-deep? Jesus said that He knows those who are His. He calls them His sheep who hear His voice and follow Him. (John 10:27) He also called them His disciples. He gave us the requirements for being His disciple in Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34 and Luke 9:23 where he said that if anyone desires to follow Him they must deny himself, take up their crosses and follow Him. If we combine these two views then we learn that our Lord’s sheep, His disciples, are those who hear His voice, deny themselves, take up their crosses and follow Him. This is telling us that genuine Christians are those who humble themselves before their Lord, die to self, submit to His Lordship, obey Him, and emulate Him as He leads.
Jesus never said that we are to die for Him, but we are to lay down our lives for Him. Which is easier? It’s much easier to die than it is to lay one’s life down daily with the sense of the high calling while living very ordinary lives. No matter how much we want to do some grand, magnificent work for our Lord, the reality is that we are called to walk in His light in very ordinary ways. Jesus is our example.