Here's the last bit of the sermon that I cut out.
Now, at this point, the question always arises, “What’s the difference between laying down your life and being a doormat? What about people who take your life away from you through some kind of verbal, physical, or emotional abuse?” Those are great questions that we need to reconcile with this core call of laying down our lives and not demanding our rights.
In those moments, my mind always goes to the scene from the Passion of the Christ where Jesus is talking with Pilate. He’s bloody and beaten, and Pilate asks him, “Don’t you know that I have the power to either crucify you or set you free?” And Jesus responds, “You have no power except that which is given you from above.” In other words, Jesus and the Father have agreed to this. You can’t take his life. He’s laying it down willingly. I think about that and I remember that Jesus was neither a martyr nor a victim. Nobody took his life from him; he wouldn’t have allowed that. He willingly laid it down.
Don’t be deceived. Agape is strong. Of all the loves, agape has the most backbone. It takes tremendous strength of will and courage to lay down your life. Agape is neither spineless nor gutless. If it were easy, everyone would do it.
Agape talks back. Agape puts up the hand and says, “No. No farther. I will lay down my life for you, but you will not take it from me.” Remember, agape is a love that walks, not a love that lays down passively.
Agape forgives sins. Anyone who has forgiven the sins of another is no longer a victim, and agape frees us from the downward spiral of being a victim, always seeking revenge, always demanding more and more retribution. Agape offers the way out through forgiveness.