I have heard it said many times, “I will die for you, Lord.” Indeed. But what does that mean? Is it a promise of spiritual valor under duress not yet experienced? Is it a wistful hope for the eternal, some vague notion that all will be put to rights in the afterlife? Taken to the extreme, the former is bravely spoken in the absence of real persecution. Likewise in the extreme, the latter is a bunker mentality waiting for this life to get over with, and letting the beauty of the present life pass by as we check our list of doomsday supplies.
There are some who will be asked to die for their faith, primarily in parts of the world where persecution is a clear and present danger. But what about a commitment to live for Jesus Christ? What if, in our living, we learn to die daily for the sake of the gospel? What if we learn to die to our own selfish desires so that the life of Christ might be lived out through us authentically? Could it be that Kingdom living in the economy of our Lord would then require us to lay down our agendas here and now so that we might impact our generation with the gospel as we live in humility and joy?
When Jesus told his disciples to take up their crosses, it quite literally was fulfilled for many of them at the end of their lives. They would be pursued and executed. We are required to take up our crosses daily, identifying with Christ by dying to self. It is likely that most who read this will not be executed on account of their faith commitment. My point is, our lives are lived most abundantly by means of dying to self so that we might live for Jesus Christ.
Who cares about making a name for oneself? Let us make Jesus’ name famous through our testimonies. Who cares about accumulating wealth? Let us give to those in need. Who cares about creating a utopian enclave (code for planned communities in the suburbs or in some parts of newer cities and towns) of people who we think will behave to our exacting specifications (honestly, we do know this is totally unrealistic anyway, right?)? Let’s be obedient to Jesus and go out into the world making disciples.
At the end of my life I do not want there to be mourning over opportunities for the sake of the gospel lost. Rather, I want there to be celebration because Jesus’ glory was spread even in the obscure and unglamorous places where I have been privileged to bear my cross and die to self.