Don't worry, this is not political. I was in Reno this week when the President of the United States came through town. At one point, as the presidential motorcade rolled toward the airport, traffic was snarled all through town. While it can be inconvenient at times, it is important that we protect whoever is our president from being harmed, regardless of who is in office or what our personal, political bent might be.
Protecting the President falls to the Secret Service. I've seen them several times in my life at speeches and rallies of presidential candidates as well as at a reception for a former president. They are intimidating figures, well-dressed and well-armed.
They are deployed in obvious ways that we can see and in covert ways that we do not see, all in an effort to protect the people whom they guard from any harm. A Secret Service agent, regardless of their political party affiliation, is trained to protect their assigned person by whatever means necessary, including jumping in the path of a bullet meant for the president.
Not long ago I watched a documentary about the Secret Service on TV, and it replayed the news footage of when then President Ronald Reagan was shot. It pointed out that one Secret Service agent turned toward the sound of gunfire and positioned himself between the shooter and the president, taking a bullet in the ribs that was meant for President Regan.
While the Secret Service agent survived the attack, it was clear he was willing to die in order to save someone as important as the president.
That someone would be willing to give their life for another is the height of bravery, and a clear expression of the value of the one who was protected - a Secret Service agent believes that the president's life is more valuable than their own, so they would take a bullet in order to save that life. It's that idea that we hear in this famous quote from Jesus: "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends." (John 15:13) To give your life for someone else shows how much you value them, even above yourself.
So when Jesus gave his life for us on the cross, it was like the president of the universe taking a bullet for each and every one of us.
As the Son of God, He didn't have to do this, but because He did, we can know this: God values us. God values you. You matter to God. Jesus was willing to take the cross for you and for me in order to show us we matter to Him.
If you are struggling today to know if your life means anything to anyone, or if you're not sure you matter in this world, remember this one thing: Jesus gave His life for you, so you must be important. Even when you don't think so, you matter to God.
Pastor Bill McCready of LifePoint Church is a member of the Carson Valley Ministers' Association.