death, failure and struggle!
These would not make a compelling conference title?! Right. Yet its the unavoidable way of the New Testament. It’s the fruit of Easter-life. That death proceeds life, that yielding gives way to glory.
Maybe we don’t need a turnaround church. A prevailing this, or a successful that. Maybe we need a dying church, one that is heeding Jesus’ call to die to itself, to take up its cross, and to follow Him.
It’s never clearer than in John 12: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honour him.”
Want to be a person, a church, that’s like Jesus? Fall to the ground and die. Give up your life in service. Want to be with Jesus, and honoured by the Father? Die to yourself. Jesus’ example in going to the cross is uncomfortably one for us to follow as well.
I love how Tim Keller puts it in one of his talks……
“The cross says the way up is down. The way to get real power is to give your power away and serve. The way to get real riches is to give away your money radically and generously. The way to get tremendous self-esteem, assurance of your beauty and your worth, is to admit you’re such a terribly lost sinner … The way to power is to give power away. The way to real riches is to give your money away. The way to real influence is not to seek influence.”
Want to serve like Jesus? Fall to the ground and die. Want to be a church that follows the way of Jesus? Die to yourself and you will find real life for the first time.
George Müller, a man who cared for many thousands of orphans during his life, was once asked, “What has been the secret of your life?” He replied, “There was a day when I died, utterly died — died to George Müller, his opinions, preferences, tastes, and will; died to the world, its approval or censure; died to the approval or blame even of my brethren and friends — and since then I have only to show myself approved to God.”
I have and am being trained, pruned…..with wilting, deathly parts. But I want to die. I choose to die to anything and everything that spoils the life of Jesus in me. I want to live in a dying kind of way.