Welcome to Your Death
dis·ci·ple: one who adheres to the teaching of another and imitates his example.
The bottom line: in calling us to die, Christ is actually rescuing us from death and giving us real life.
The little kingdom promises life, but brings you death; the big kingdom requires your death, but gives you life. But you must remember that you will be continually tempted to think that the opposite is true. Let me say it even more forcefully. The biggest danger this side of eternity is death pretending to be life. Death pretended to be life in the garden and has been doing it ever since. Proverbs 14:12 summarizes death’s trickery well: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”
The Call: You Must Die
Deny yourself: death to the priority of self. Essentially Christ is saying, “If you want to live, if you want to experience the transcendent joys of my eternal kingdom, then you must let go of your hold on your life. You must loosen your grip and with open hands give your life back to me.” Now ask yourself: “Am I following Christ’s call where I live and work?” Perhaps you’re thinking, Frankly, Paul, I’m not sure what that would look like. Well, think of your life as an investment. Every day each of us invests our time, money, gifts, talents, energies, relationships, and resources in the pursuit of something.
Take up your cross: death to my pursuit of my life. The one who sacrificed his life so that we might have life now calls his disciples to sacrifice their lives for him. In a world that only understands the kingdom of self, living for the big kingdom of Christ will always require suffering and sacrifice. What are you unwilling to offer? Your money? Your lifestyle? Your reputation? Your house? Prestige? Power? The esteem of others? Your car? Your friendships? Your plans for the future? Which of these pleasures would you refuse to nail to your daily cross?
Follow me: death to my pursuit of my plan. As his children, no longer are we to live as little self-lords, exercising sovereignty over our own lives. No, we are called to something bigger than anything we would plan for ourselves. Everything we think, desire, say, and do must fit within the new identity that we have been given. We have been chosen and called to be followers. That means we no longer live with a master mentality.
The Logic: Rescue from Spiritual Suicide
Why is the call of Christ so hard? Why will he settle for nothing less than this triple death? The answer is because Christ knows us. He knows the character and inertia of sin. Sin in its essence is self-focused. . . Christ, on the other hand, not only calls us to be willing participants in our own death, but he also lays out the logic behind his call. It is found in this one profound big kingdom principle: Try to save your life and you will lose it, but lose your life for Christ’s sake and you will find it. Once again, the little kingdom promises you life but brings you death, while the big kingdom requires your death but gives you life. To jealously hold on to my dream of what I want to accomplish, experience, and enjoy is to guarantee that I will never ever experience true life. Instead, I will experience the slow and progressive shrinking of my soul until there is no life left. You see, our life cannot be found outside of our relationship to the Lord. So, if I am seeking life outside of the One who is life, I am effectively committing spiritual suicide.
The Question: What If You Had It All?
“Deny me my rightful place in your life, and I will deny you a place with me in glory.” It is a warning that we, with our quickly wandering hearts, should not take lightly. Do you esteem Christ on Sunday yet invest the passion and action of your life in other treasures during the week? Yes, you must work, eat, rest, invest, and relate. The issue here is about what rules your heart and sets the agenda for your decisions and actions.
A Sweet Promise
His death call is really an offer to a life beyond your wildest dreams—a life of joy, satisfaction, purpose, and pleasure that this sadly broken world could never deliver in its finest moment. Shrinking your life to the size of your life is not life. It is death wearing the mask of life.
Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. (Isaiah 55:1-2)
The final question: in your everyday situations and relationships, where are you finding it hard to deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Christ?
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Adapted from A Quest For More. Excerpt may not be reproduced without the express written permission of New Growth Press. To purchase this and other resources, please visit www.newgrowthpress.com.
© 2008 by Paul David Tripp. Used by permission of New Growth Press. All rights reserved.