24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 25 “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. (Matt. 16:24-25, NASB)
These verses are not laws or commands. They are an explanation of how to enter life.
See, Christianity is about living.
And we live by dying.
Not by following a code of conduct.
WHAT DEATH IS NOT
If we don’t live by law, then we don’t die by law either.
This means these following rules—these codes of conduct—are not what it means to die:
- putting ourself last
- setting aside our desires for another’s
- setting aside our needs for another’s
- quenching our will for God’s
- resisting our own selfish urges
- surrendering our lives to Christ
- being a martyr to our desires
- resisting sin
All of these, though they seem noble, are meant to result from life, not be a means to life.
Let me explain.
WHAT DEATH IS
You and I live when we die.
But, biblically speaking, what is life? And what is death?
Simply, life is union with God. Death is not being in union with God.
Union with God means entering his love and living in it.
The alternative is living outside of his love.
This does not refer to his earned love. This refers to the love he already has for us. The love we didn’t earn. Couldn’t earn. The love that just is. Because he just is.
Our own flesh is void of the knowledge of this love though. That’s what darkness is. That’s what death is.
But Christ’s resurrected body is full of the knowledge of God’s love. That’s what light is. That’s what life is.
You and I are in flesh of darkness. To die to ourself or our flesh, then, is to stop living unloved. It is to live believing we’re perfectly, unendingly, passionately loved by God.
When we are in tune to how the doubt of God’s love is behind everything we do or don’t do, say or don’t say, think or don’t think, we finally are on the cusp of life.
WHAT LIFE IS
Life is living together with God. We live in union with him when we live in his love… when we abide in Jesus.
Jesus is in a glorified body. He’s in a body filled full with the knowledge of God’s perfect love for him. He comes into us, when we believe in him, to lead us out of life-in-the-flesh and up and into his life-in-glory (God’s perfect love). (Jn 10:2-3, 9; Jn 15:1-11; Rom. 6:4; Eph 1:3-4; 2 Cor. 4:6)
In this place we’re safe from sin, destruction, and death (as we’ve learned it to mean today; 1 Jn 3:6, 1 Cor. 15:56-57). In this place, we are free. In this place we have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Gal. 5:22-25) Life lived from this place… this Person… this love… is Christianity.
Yes, we enter life through death. And we live by faith.
This New Year I wonder, would you deny the voice in your flesh which claims you are not loved? Will you endeavor to stop believing that voice? Would you endeavor to stop trying to prove that voice wrong? And would you hear Jesus tell you of his love? Of God’s perfect love for you? Would you dare to believe his love will satisfy every craving for love you have? Will you dare to draw your eyes away from earth’s approval and up to the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, where you already have more approval—more love—than you can fathom right now? (For further reading, these passages are a good place to start: John 15, Romans 8:35-39, Eph 1-3, 1 John)
I tell you what, I’m in! I say yes! Let’s do this thing!
Let’s die so we can